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Finalist for FAMU Marching 100 band director job turns it down

Florida A&M University interim President Larry Robinson says the school will start from scratch in its search for a new Marching 100 band director.

Robinson admitted that North Carolina Central University band director Jorim Reid was in Tallahassee Tuesday and that Robinson had expected to name Reid as the new band director during a morning press conference. The event was delayed, then cancelled, leaving a room full of FAMU students and supporters buzzing.

Reid ultimately turned down the job after he was unable to come to agreement with the university on the structure of the music department and the role of the marching band director, Robinson said this afternoon.

The university also issued a press release saying the search would be reopened and FAMU would consider hiring a search firm.

A search committee had interviewed four fiinalists for the job. One of them, Pompano Beach high school band director Richard Beckford was later taken out of the running because he failed to meet certain qualifications, Robinson said.

That leaves two finalists remaining: Penn State assistant band director Gregory Drane and Shelby Chipman, FAMU's associate band director who has been groomed to assume the top position.

Robinson said the school hasn't removed Drane or Chipman, who has widespread support among FAMU band students and many alumni, from being in the running.

"We haven't ruled anybody out; we haven't ruled anybody in," he said.

Here is the university's press release:

Florida A&M University (FAMU) Interim President Larry Robinson has decided today to reopen the search for a new director of marching and pep bands with the desire to look at a new pool of candidates.

“We were unable to reach an agreement and we strongly feel that it is time to reopen the search to find the right fit for the task at hand,” Robinson said. “Our goal is to continue the tradition that has made the Marching ‘100’ great, but to also ensure that students are able to thrive in the right environment free from outside pressure and influence.”

According to FAMU Interim Provost Rodner Wright, who is chair of the search committee, the university had a firm commitment on Monday, but the candidate had several concerns.

“This search is a priority for us and we understand how critical this position is in the decision-making process about the return of the Marching ‘100,’” Wright said. “We want to make sure the candidate understands that our priority is to do what is in the best interest of the university and students.”

The university is considering the use of a search firm as it reopens the search.