Florida A&M University, which has been rocked by a hazing scandal for nearly a year, insists in legal papers filed Monday that it is not to blame for the tragic death last year of drum major Robert Champion.
The university maintained that it was Champion, not the school, who bears the ultimate responsibility for his death. Champion died last November after he was beaten by fellow members of the famed Marching 100 band aboard a charter bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.
The university asserts that the 26-year-old Champion was a top leader in the band and he should have refused to take part in the hazing ritual.
"No public university or college has a legal duty to protect an adult student from the result of their own decision to participate in a dangerous activity while off-campus and after retiring from university-sponsored events," states the lengthy filing by Richard Mitchell, an attorney with the GrayRobinson law firm hired by FAMU.
Instead, the university maintains that Champion — who it says witnessed others being hazed that night on the bus — consented to the hazing ritual in order to gain respect among fellow band members.