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News Clips 02/07/2013
Marching 100 absence costly
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 02/07/13
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By Doug Blackburn
It’s costing Florida A&M University a significant amount of money to have the Marching 100 sitting on the sidelines. It’s just not clear exactly how much less revenue FAMU has generated as a result of the popular band serving an indefinite suspension in the aftermath of the Nov. 19, 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
Larry Robinson, FAMU’s interim president, told members of the Board of Trustees’ Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday that in some cases, it’s easy to determine how much the band’s absence has cost the university. For example, he said, FAMU had to agree to a revised contract for last September’s Atlanta Classic football game, with FAMU’s guaranteed pay reduced by $150,000, from $400,000 to $250,000.
Attendance at the Florida Classic in November was almost half of what it normally is, and the university received about $150,000 less than it had in previous years.
“I think we all know (the Marching 100) is a major economic engine wherever it goes,” Trustee Torey Alston said.
Athletic Director Derek Horne does not attribute all of his financial woes to the absence of the band, but his department’s projected loss for the current fiscal year is now $2.2 million, twice the amount he had told trustees to expect at the start of the school year. If he is on target with his latest estimate, that will send the athletic department’s accumulated debt above $8 million.
“No one ever wanted to suspend the band, but no one ever anticipated the circumstances that led to the band’s suspension. We did what we had to do,” Robinson said.
The university is working toward reinstating the band. It has hired a special assistant to the president focused on hazing, and it is in the process of hiring a compliance officer for the music department. FAMU announced Wednesday that it has officially reopened a national search for a new director for the Marching 100 and pep bands, with a March 1 deadline for applications.
Trustee Charles Langston noted that the Marching 100 had never been enough to keep FAMU’s athletic department from operating in the red.
“When we had a band we were still running a million-dollar deficit every year,” he said.
It was noted that only a handful of Division I athletic departments manage to cover all of their costs or show a profit. FAMU has been using revenue from its bookstore and food service to cover the deficit incurred in sports.
“I would like to see what other universities do to address this,” Langston added.
Support from students
It’s official: the university now is home to the FAMU Student Foundation, modeled after the institution’s No. 1 direct support organization, the FAMU Foundation.
Trustee Marissa West, the student body president, informed her colleagues on the board that the student-run foundation to date has collected $500 in cash and received verbal commitments for $5,000. Student government had been working since October to take care of the details required to create FAMU Student Foundation, she said.
“We wanted it to be part of our legacy,” West said.