FAMU names alum as new band director [USA Today]

1969 grad to lead school’s marching and pep bands in wake of drum major’s hazing death.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida A&M interim President Larry Robinson on Tuesday introduced Sylvester Young as the new director of the school’s marching and pep bands 18 months after the hazing death of a drum major.

Young, a 1969 graduate of FAMU who played trombone in the university’s famed Marching 100 band, fills a vacancy created by the departure of longtime band director Julian White.

The Marching 100 and all other bands at FAMU have been suspended since Nov. 22, 2011, three days after the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.

A key question remains unanswered: When will the Marching 100 be reinstated?

Robinson declined to commit to a timetable for the return of the university’s marquee symbol.

It’s possible the Marching 100 will return in time for the coming football season, Robinson said, but he quickly added that he’s not ready to make that decision right now.

“There are a number of things we need to consider. How big should the band be? It’s a resource question,” Robinson said. “We need to sit down and make an assessment as to how soon (the band can return). We need to see what we might have overlooked.”

The band director was the third and final hire for reinstating the band. Bryan Smith, a special assistant to the president for hazing, joined FAMU in late January and a compliance officer for the music department, Deirdre McRoy, was announced Monday.

Tuesday’s news conference to name a new band director brought a swarm of media, students and alumni to FAMU’s Grand Ballroom, another indication of how important the Marching 100 is to the university.

“It’s one of those things that’s ingrained in the hearts and minds and souls of Rattlers everywhere. It’s something they take great pride in,” Robinson said.

 

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