FROM:http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/FAMU_Board_Considers_Presidents_Suspension_135849973.htmlIn accordance with Federal Laws provided For Educational and Information Purposes – i.e. of PUBLIC InterestUpdated: 8:55 AM Dec 20, 2011FAMU Board Bucks Scott, Keeps Ammons on JobThe Florida A&M University board of trustees agreed to keep President James Ammons on the job despite anongoing investigation of the schools famous "Marching 100" band, rejecting a recommendation from Gov. RickScott that Ammons be suspended.Posted: 8:01 AM Dec 19, 2011Reporter: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of FloridaTHE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, December 20, 2011Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of FloridaThe Florida A&M University board of trustees agreed Monday to keep President James Ammons on the jobdespite an ongoing investigation of the schools famous "Marching 100" band, rejecting a recommendation fromGov. Rick Scott that Ammons be suspended.The boards decision came in the wake of building pressure on Scott to butt out of the inquiry at the historicallyblack university, with the regional accrediting body and the head of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus bothtelling the governor to keep his distance. And in explaining the decision, FAMU Board Chairman Solomon Badgersent an implied warning shot at Scott and others."We will stand firm against outside influence, regardless of how well-intended," Badger said during ateleconference to discuss Ammons status.The board did agree to set up weekly meetings over the next 60 days to remain apprised of the Florida Departmentof Law Enforcements investigation into what happened to drum major Robert Champion, whose death after ahazing incident was ruled a homicide last week by Orange County medical examiners. Champion died in Orlandofollowing the annual FAMU-Bethune Cookman football game on Nov. 19. FDLE has since announced that it alsois looking into the bands finances.Badger also said the board would meet at FAMU next month to conduct Ammons evaluation.And in a statement issued following the meeting, the board said it was too soon to force Ammons to step aside,even temporarily."Until information and results from the ongoing investigations are made available to the board, enabling it toeffectively conduct a fact-based deliberation on the role of the administration and the President in these matters,the board is deciding to leave the status of the President unchanged," it said.Scott publicly waded into the controversy last week, calling on the board to suspend Ammons to remove anydoubts about the thoroughness of the investigation. Ammons said after a Friday afternoon meeting with Scott thathe would consider the advice, but the board action Monday would keep him on the job for the time.
The governor released a statement following the meeting saying he would follow the boards decision."For the sake of appearances, and to assure the public that these investigations are clearly independent, I believe itwould have been in the best interest of Florida A&M University for President Ammons to step aside until all ofthese investigations are completed," Scott said. "However, we have a process in Florida for the administration ofthe State University System, and that process has been followed."Over weekend and leading up to Monday mornings meeting, pressure had been building on Scott to removehimself from decisions about Ammons future -- including a letter from Belle Wheelan, president of the SouthernAssociation of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, FAMUs accrediting body."Having been a college president, as well as being a parent, I truly appreciate the seriousness of the issues withwhich the University is dealing as it relates to the reported hazing events of recent weeks; however, the issues arethose of the University and as such should be handled by the governing board," Wheelan wrote.In an interview Monday, Wheelan said the board was free to suspend Ammons if it believed it was necessary, butnot because of pressure from Scott."If they do it because he tells them to, that jeopardizes their accreditation," she said.Losing accreditation could endanger federal financial aid to students, but Wheelan said the organization was likelyto place an institution on warning first. She also said SACS has taken no steps toward investigating FAMU overthe governors comments.On Monday, Rep. Mia Jones, the Jacksonville Democrat who chairs the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, alsourged the universitys board to make its own decision."Governor Rick Scott is our state’s Chief Executive Officer, and while he is certainly entitled to an opinion, hisactions or influences on the management and governing of the University could jeopardize FAMU’s accreditationunder the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools," said Jones, a FAMU alumna. "It is the position of theFlorida Legislative Black Caucus (FLBC) that the Board of Trustees be allowed to fulfill its duties in the manneroutlined in Florida statutes without influence from the Legislative or Executive branch of government."___________________________[UPDATE] TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - December 19, 2011 - Noon -The FAMU Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting this morning. Board members scheduled the meeting torespond to Florida Governor Rick Scotts request to suspend FAMU president Dr. James Ammons.FAMU Board of Trustees have agreed not to take any action on the status of university president Dr. JamesAmmons. I was upstairs in the conference room of Lee Hall when the board members held their meeting by phone.The room was packed with university team leaders and the media.The trustees scheduled the meeting after Governor Rick Scott strongly suggested to Board Chairman SolomonBadger to suspend Dr. Ammons last week. Scott says Ammons should step down while investigations of hazingand irregularities at the university are being conducted.This morning during the conference call meeting, Chairman Badger suggested that Dr. Ammons status shouldremain the same until all investigations are completed.The board also voted to have meetings every week in order to stay abreast of ongoing issues.
We did not hear President Ammons name called during the teleconference, nor did we hear him say anythingduring the call, but leaders who were in the conference room say he was on the phone.Eyewitness News was told Dr. Ammons is on holiday leave, but administrators did not know where he was callingfrom.STATEMENT FROM THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES:"As a board, we are vested with the power and authority to govern and set policy for Florida A&M University. Toclarify any concern, we are fully aware of our authority. As is always the case, the board will act with the bestinterests of the University in mind and will not be influenced by pressure from political or other outside forces.Our deliberations on all matters are underscored by our commitment to pursuing the right path for the Universityand its future.""Furthermore it should be noted that the board is closely monitoring all ongoing investigations. Until informationand results from the ongoing investigations are made available to the board, enabling it to effectively conduct afact-based deliberation on the role of the administration and the President in these matters, the board is deciding toleave the status of the President unchanged. The board is committed to convene and act promptly, as soon asinformation from the investigating agencies becomes available."________________________[UPDATE] TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - December 19, 2011 - 9:45am -Florida A&M Universitys president will keep his job while authorities investigate the hazing death of a bandmember.The universitys board of trustees on Monday rejected a call by Gov. Rick Scott that James Ammons be suspended.The decision comes three days after the state medical examiner ruled that 26-year-old Robert Champions Nov. 19death was a homicide. Officials say he was beaten so severely that he bled internally and went into shock. He diedwithin an hour.Ammons and other university leaders have been criticized for not doing enough to stop a culture of hazing withinthe universitys famed "Marching 100" band. Band director Julian White has been placed on temporary leave andthe board had already publicly reprimanded Ammons._______________________TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — December 19, 2011 - 9:20am -The FAMU Board of Trustees started its conference call meeting around 9am.Chairman Badger has suggested that Dr. Ammons status remains the same until all final reports are in.As of 9:30am, the board has not yet started discussing the chairmans recommendation yet. They are talking abouta motion to start meeting once a week to stay on top of ongoing issues.Meeting adjourned at 9:33. No action taken on the status of Ammons. Voted to meet every week.______________________________TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — December 19, 2011 -
The immediate future of Florida A&M Universitys president is on the line Monday morning as the board oftrustees considers whether to suspend him while authorities investigate the hazing death of a band member.The meeting comes three days after the state medical examiner ruled that 26-year-old drum major RobertChampions Nov. 19 death was a homicide. Officials say he was beaten so severely that he bled internally and wentinto shock. He died within an hour.School President James Ammons and other university leaders have been criticized for not doing enough to stop aculture of hazing within the universitys famed "Marching 100" band. Band director Julian White has been placedon temporary leave and the board publicly reprimanded Ammons.Florida Gov. Rick Scott suggested to university leaders that Ammons be suspended but said hed abide by theboards decision.Students have largely stood by both leaders. Students protested outside the governors mansion Thursday to showsupport for Ammons, and the president of the national alumni association at a news conference Sunday contestedScotts involvement and recommend Ammons not be suspended."This is under investigation," Tommy Mitchell said. "How do you make a determination before all the evidence isin?"Scott said in a statement that he is not singling out FAMU and called on all universities in the state to examinetheir hazing and harassment policies. He said he was offering his opinion and counsel regarding Ammons."I merely suggested it would be wise for Dr. Ammons to step aside until these investigations are completed," Scottsaid. "It is up to the FAMU Board of Trustees and Dr. Ammons to determine how to proceed. I have not and willnot try to influence their decision. Like all other Floridians, I will abide by the decisions made."Champion died after falling unconscious on a bus outside an Orlando hotel after the schools football team lost torival Bethune-Cookman. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers he had been vomiting.The medical examiners office in Orlando found that Champion had bruises to his chest, arms, shoulder and backand internal bleeding. No charges have been filed.Champions 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 partof an initiation to become a member of a group known as "The Clones." Three years later, band member MarcusParker was also hospitalized with kidney damage after being paddled.Ammons, a FAMU alumni, became president in 2007 at a time when the university was under considerabledistress. There had been four presidents within the previous six years and an audit in 2007 uncovered 35 findings,including $4.5 million in unaccounted sports tickets and lost equipment. The university was placed under probationby the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.Under Ammons leadership, the universitys accreditation was restored and its finances improved. An audit donetwo years later found the university still needed to do a better job of paying bills on time and keeping a closer eyeon employee use of state-owned cell phones, but those problems paled in comparison to the previous report."He brought us through that," Mitchell said. "Theres no reason for us to believe he cant bring us through this."But hazing continued to be a problem. White has provided letters of suspension issued to dozens of band membersfor hazing, including many of which Ammons was reportedly provided a copy.
Less than two weeks before Champions death, band member Bria Hunter was hospitalized with a broken leg andblood clots in what authorities say was another act of hazing. Three band members have been charged in thebeating.And two days before Champion died, White sent a letter to alumni, urging them not to "return and perpetuate themyth of various sectional names.""You should not return and look down on people who follow university regulations by not participating in sub-organizations," White wrote, urging alumni to help him eliminate "all vestiges of hazing" in the band.Ammons suspended the band after Champions death, dismissed White and expelled four students in connectionwith the hazing. White was later placed on temporary leave and the students were allowed to attend class after stateauthorities urged the university not to take disciplinary action before the investigation was complete.The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has warned Scotts push to suspendAmmons could affect the schools accreditation because of "undue influence" on the board from outside.