Two things happened that affected the Florida A&M University community on July 11—slain band member Robert Champion’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the college in the slaying of their son and beleaguered university President James Ammons resigned.

Champion, 26, died in November after being beaten allegedly by fellow Marching 100 band members in a hazing ritual. He was found unconscious on a bus outside an Orlando hotel after a football game, according to news reports. The suit, which doesn’t specify the damages sought by the parents, accuses school officials of failing to enforce anti-hazing policies.

Ammons, Florida A&M’s 10th president, sent a letter of resignation to the university’s board of trustees, noting that he will “will continue my work on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives as a tenured full professor on our great faculty.” The resignation will be effective starting Oct. 11.

“After considerable thought, introspection, and conversations with my family, I have decided to resign from my position as president in order to initiate my retirement on October 11, 2012,” he wrote.

He added, “When the next president experiences her or his transition in, she or he will likely find additional challenges, albeit not nearly to the extent of that which I have faced at the outset…”

It is believed that hazing was a significant problem at the university. Band Director Julian White retired in May. Four days later, the Marching 100 Band was suspended for a year, news reports said.

Ammons’ letter was released to media yesterday.

“I am saddened by President Ammons’ decision to resign, but it is his choice to do so,” said Dr. Solomon Badger, FAMU board chairman in a statement released by the school.

“Given all that has transpired, it seems to be in the best interest of the university and I applaud him for putting FAMU ahead of his personal goals.”

Jessika Morgan

AFRO Staff Writer