Hazing Crisis: James Ammons Gets No-confidence Vote
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — 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.