2011-12-19

Florida A&M head keeps job during hazing death probe

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida A&M University’s president will keep his job while authorities investigate the hazing death of a band member.

The university’s board of trustees today rejected a call by Gov. Rick Scott that James Ammons be suspended.

“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-yearold 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.

Students had largely stood by both leaders. Students protested outside the governor’s mansion on Thursday to show support for Ammons, and the president of the national alumni association at a news conference Sunday contested Scott’s involvement and recommend Ammons not be suspended.

“This is under investigation,” Tommy Mitchell said. “How do you make a determination before all the evidence is in?”

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