May 11, 2012


(Tallahassee Democrat) -- Julian White, Florida A&M's longtime band director announced Thursday afternoon his retirement from the university.

White had previously fought to get his job back after being placed on administrative leave following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion in November.


White's retirement marks the end of a decades-long era leading the famed Marching 100, the future of which remains in question. The band, too, was suspended from performances and other activities in the wake of Champion's death.

Eleven fellow band members were charged last week with felony hazing in connection with his beating death on a band bus in Orlando on Nov. 19 following the Florida Classic football game. FAMU officials revealed this week that three of those charged were among 101 band members not enrolled in the university's band course as required.


In a telephone interview, White said he was not forced to retire.


"I didn't want to give the impression that I was running away from it, but the media pressure on my family was just too much," said White, who is married, has grown children and an 8-year-old son. "I just could not continue to subject my family to the adverse publicity."


White, 71, is a FAMU graduate and one-time drum major who returned to the university in 1973 as assistant to legendary band director William P. Foster before succeeding him in 1998.


White's attorney Chuck Hobbs sent out word of his retirement Thursday after he said White filed his paperwork with the Florida Retirement System. White was paid $116,797 a year as a full professor at FAMU where he began his employment in June 1973. The move brings to an end the threat of a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the university, Hobbs said.


White said he had hoped to return to FAMU and rebuild the band.


"I love Florida A&M University," he said. "I wish that I could have worked with the university more in solving some of the problems."


FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Solomon Badger, who attended the same Jacksonville high school as White, roomed with him in graduate school and is in the same fraternity, said White made the right decision.

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