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 (10/7-10/14)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Nite | to the tune of @cnn 😞
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2. Got so much work to do but I just wanna stay in bed and binge watch #Gameofthrones and start the new season of #OnceUponATime. I know I can't be the only one. Right? Ha 💤🦁🍂 #saturday
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3. Mommy's weekend turn up ❤️👶🏾💕🍼 Wouldn't trade it for nothing. #TeamNoSleep lol #HesMyBiggestBlessing ✨
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4. One of them oh shit mont we made it feelings … this shit still be unreal 💯💪🏾 @remyboymonty1738
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5. Tickets Available October 14 @ticketmaster.
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6. People magazine Home edition has raided my house! Get a sneak peek into the bedroom life of the Leakes and see other parts of my home now at PEOPLE.COM
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7. They want to kick you when you down, but kick it when you up
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8. Got my advance copy of #Mafia3 at @gamestop. Get yours via link in the bio #Mafia3 #Ad
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9. This is some of the cast and our diverse team of writers in the writer's room creating funny sh*t for @nbcmarlon what a fun room! Lots of jokes, great stories and having a great time doing what we love... making people laugh and feel something. Look out for our show next year @nbcmarlon we bringing sitcoms back to NBC
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10. #HappySunday☀️Thank you @4everbrandy101 💛💡💛
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11. Happy to be back in Central Falls, RI breaking ground for the One Stop Health Center and hosting a local community event with #Vaseline.
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12. Thank you all in advance 💋💋💋 #Repost @urbansvintage・・・#TarajiPHenson's memoir #AroundTheWayGirl will be available everywhere TODAY October 11th! Will you be purchasing a copy? #UrbansVintage
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13. Moms got my back
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14. @galore dinner party glo ✨ thanks to @styledbygiigii
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15. 🌹#ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLikeTOUR #forevereve
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16. Yes, all those videos I've been posting have led to this: the introduction of skincare to @TYRABeauty! This is the rundown on the new line:Years of research and beauty tips I live by led me to produce the most effective and delightful skincare out there. I'm all about taking really good care of my skin, so I can look like I'm aging in #TyraYears and go filter free on Instagram when I feel like it! Now, it's your turn. ✨My Mama always told me not to wash my face with just my hands. "Tyra, girl, you're just moving the dirt around!" And I've listened. First up is The Clean Machine.... ...a 3-in-1 foaming face wash that cleanses, removes makeup and purified your skin. It has patented technology - a attached Turbo Cleansing Tool - to give you that deep clean that makes your skin feel super fresh. Wanna know more? Yeah, baby. Click that link in my bio.
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17. On set of #beingmaryjane like... ❤️😬💃🏾
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18. #carouselofhope@yvetteshelton100@makeupbylatrice @thestacetheface@marialuciahohan24
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19. I refuse to let a little cold stop me from my daily routines to greatness. #onlythestrongsurvive #warriors
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20. Big things begin with big THINKING... #BusinessEthics #SetLife 🎥
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21. Goodnight - here's a song
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22. Words can't explain the feeling that I have right now.....God is good. look momma I made it. #Harts #Blessed #WhatNow #comedicrockstarshit #4DaysAway
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23. I tried to get a better video with out the nasty bib but she started getting mad at me..lol! Big cuz @the_queen_caitlin trying to show her what to do. #MamasToots #HeirBear👑💜
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24. Gorgeous Serena joined Beyoncé in Formation last night on stage in New Jersey!!!
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25. 😜 @lifeofdesiigner & @rockohill
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