The president of Florida A&M University said he will not resign despite a no-confidence vote by school trustees over his handling of a hazing scandal involving the school’s marching band.
The board of trustees voted 8-4 in favor of a no-confidence vote against James Ammons, criticizing him for turning a blind eye toward hazing and the band’s activities prior to the November beating death of drum major Robert Champion.
Since Champion’s death, the school has been covered by a cloud of disgrace. Two music professors have resigned under charges that they stood by while hazing took place, and 11 band members have been charged with felonies in connection with the incident. A criminal investigation into the band’s finances is also underway.
But Ammons, a FAMU alumnus who took the reins of the university in 2007, said he is not leaving.
“This is my university,” he told the Associated Press. “Until the final bell rings I am going to serve as president of Florida A&M.”
Earlier this week, the president unveiled stringent new eligibility requirements for membership in The Marching 100, a famed band that has played at inaugurations and Super Bowls. Last month, it was discovered that some members of the 400-plus-member band were not FAMU students.
In May, Ammons said the band would not take the field during the coming school year, and the president and his staff also recently announced a new anti-hazing measure that includes spending $300,000 to employ new staff and increase oversight of the music department and student organizations.
But the president’s detractors say their concerns go beyond the hazing scandal, questioning his ability to cope with state budget cuts to higher education, an expected decline in enrollment this fall and the fallout from the discovery that an auditor had been submitting falsified reports to the trustee board.
“I do not have confidence in Dr. Ammons to lead us out of this crisis,” said trustee Bill Jennings, who initiated the vote.
Narayan Persaud, the faculty’s representative on the board, said he believed the university was “caught in a wilderness of errors,” and is uncertain how the school would regain its reputation.
“How can we reclaim control of the dignity of this once prestigious university, that has been pulled backwards and backwards?” he said.