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Florida college adopts crisis plan after hazing death

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - Trustees of a Florida college under investigation over the November hazing death of a drum major in its celebrated marching band adopted on Monday a crisis management plan to halt the culture of hazing.

Sharon Saunders, a spokeswoman for historically black college Florida A & M University, said the trustees also scheduled a February 8 public employment evaluation for embattled FAMU president James Ammons.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has called for Ammons to be suspended following the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, who was beaten to death aboard a band bus following a performance in Orlando.

A medical examiner has ruled Champion's death a homicide. Prior to Champion's death, other band students reported serious injuries related to hazing, including a leg fracture, blood clots, kidney failure and an unspecified injury requiring surgery.

Saunders said trustees voted 9-1 for the plan during a teleconference, with trustee Narayan Persaud, who also is president of the FAMU faculty senate, rejecting the plan as "too simplistic." Persaud, and several other trustees, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

The plan calls for a blue ribbon committee to determine best practices for managing a marching band, how other universities have handled hazing problems and ways to encourage students to resist hazing.

The plan also includes provisions for a campus memorial to Champion and a scholarship in Champion's name, pending approval by his parents, Saunders said.

(Editing by Greg McCune)