FAMU President Will Keep Job During Investigation

The university's board of trustees decided to reject Governor Rick Scott's recommendations to have the president ousted.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCMiami.com
    Rick Scott suggested Thursday that the president be suspended.

    Florida A&M University's president will keep his job despite a call from Gov. Rick Scott Thursday to have him suspended.
       
    The university's board of trustees on Monday rejected Scott’s recommendations to have James Ammons ousted so that the university could fully cooperate in the homicide investigation into a band member’s death.

    "We will stand firm against outside interference, no matter how well intended," Solomon Badger, the FAMU board chairman, said during a board meeting that was held by conference call.
     
    The decision comes three days after the state medical examiner ruled that 26-year-old Robert Champion's Nov. 19 death was a homicide. Officials say he was beaten so severely that he bled internally and went into shock. He died within an hour.
     
    Ammons and other university leaders have been criticized for not doing enough to stop a culture of hazing within the university's famed "Marching 100" band. Band director Julian White has been placed on temporary leave and the board had already publicly reprimanded Ammons.
      
    "This is under investigation,'' Tommy Mitchell said. "How do you make a determination before all the evidence is in?''
     
    Scott said in a statement that he is not singling out FAMU and called on all universities in the state to examine their hazing and harassment policies. He said he was offering his opinion and counsel regarding Ammons and would abide by the board's decision.
     
    "I merely suggested it would be wise for Dr. Ammons to step aside until these investigations are completed,'' Scott said. "It is up to the FAMU Boardof Trustees and Dr. Ammons to determine how to proceed. I have not and will not try to influence their decision."
     
    Champion's death exposed years of hazing that has plagued the band and left several students injured. In 1998, Ivery Luckey, a clarinet player from Ocala, Fla., was hospitalized with kidney damage after being paddled as part of an initiation to become a member of a group known as "The Clones." Three years later, band member Marcus Parker was also hospitalized with kidney damage after being paddled.