TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The president of Florida A&M University submitted his resignation Wednesday, the same day the university was sued by parents of a drum major who died during a hazing. It was unclear if the two events were related.
James Ammons announced the resignation, which takes effect Oct. 11, in a letter to the chairman of the universitys governing board. He said his decision came after considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family.
The parents of Robert Champion, the drum major who was killed, applauded the move, calling it part of a necessary house cleaning at the university. The embattled president said he plans to exercise a provision in his contract that allows him to remain at the school as a member of the faculty.
The colleges board of trustees gave Ammons a vote of no-confidence in June. The board will hold an emergency meeting Monday to discuss a replacement and the specific terms of Ammons resignation.
The presidents departure is the latest in a series of blows to the university that has seen its image badly bruised by Champions death, the suspension of the band until 2013 and the springtime resignation of its veteran director.
Eleven FAMU band members face felony hazing charges, while two others face misdemeanor counts for alleged roles in Champions hazing. They have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is scheduled to begin in October.
Dreams of playing in the now-disgraced Marching 100 band used to draw students to apply to the university as much if not more than the schools academic program, and the same professional performances that led it to play at Super Bowls and presidential inaugurations were a huge attendance draw at football games.
A former top administrator of the school, Ammons was first hired to help steady FAMUs financial woes and threats to its accreditation.
But Champions death put a spotlight on a hazing culture that he and other top FAMU officials have been unable to eradicate.