TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The president of Florida A&M University vowed to remain on the job Thursday despite a no-confidence vote from school trustees over his handling of the hazing death of a member of the school's famed marching band.
The board of trustees voted 8-4 against James Ammons as it questioned his management of a broad range of issues, particularly calling into question what it saw as his lax attitude toward hazing and management of the band prior to the November beating death of drum major Robert Champion.
After the vote, Ammons said he intended to stay in his post. This week Ammons recommended stringent new eligibility requirements for membership in The Marching 100 band, which has played at Super Bowls and inauguration ceremonies.
"This is my university," said Ammons, an alumnus of the school who became its president in 2007. "Until the final bell rings I am going to serve as president of Florida A&M."
But trustees who voted against Ammons said problems at the university transcend the hazing crisis as the university grapples with the impact of state budget cuts to higher education and a likely decline in enrollment this fall. They also noted the fact that a top auditor at the university resigned last year after it was revealed that false audit summaries were presented to the board of trustees.
"I do not have confidence in Dr. Ammons to lead us out of this crisis," trustee Bill Jennings said.
Narayan Persaud, the faculty member on the board, said he had concluded that the university was "caught in a wilderness of errors."
"How can we reclaim control of the dignity of this once prestigious university that has been pulled backwards and backwards?" Persaud said.
The school has been reeling since Champion's death.
Eleven members of the band have been charged with felony hazing for allegedly beating him to death. The death exposed a wide culture of hazing at the school. Critics say Ammons and other administrators ignored it. Ammons suspended the band last November and last month announced the band would remain off the field for the coming school year.
Two professors in the music department resigned earlier this year following allegations they were present while band fraternity pledges were hazed. And last month university officials acknowledged 101 members on the 457-member marching band roster were not FAMU students. A separate criminal investigation into band finances is still ongoing.
Jennings, the trustee who put forward the no-confidence motion, said it wasn't a vote to fire Ammons and he was unsure if there were enough votes to do that.
Ammons, who signed a five-year contract extension last year, can only be fired by a two-thirds margin. The board has 13 members, but there is currently a vacancy.
Other trustees, however, said this wasn't the time to force Ammons out, citing a new anti-hazing plan that the president and his staff have drawn up that calls for spending more than $300,000 to beef up university staff and impose new oversight of the music department and student organizations.
But Champion family attorney, Christopher Chestnut, said it was time for Ammons to step down. He said the fact it took six months for Ammons to draw up an anti-hazing plan shows a "lack of commitment" to eradicating the problem.
Ammons became president in 2007 following a budget scandal that threatened the school's accreditation. He said recently that the current crisis triggered by Champion's death marks the biggest challenge of his career.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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