Florida A&M University’s president resigned Monday after facing months of criticism in the hazing death of a marching band member.
Last week, James Ammons had submitted a letter stating his resignation would not take effect until Oct 11. However, he waived a provision allowing him to give 90 days notice to the FAMU board in exchange for getting paid bonuses.
It is for the best that Ammons resigned immediately so that the university can move on with new leadership.
The university’s governing board voted in favor of a generous deal in which Ammons will be paid more than $98,000 in performance bonuses from his last two years in office and will still earn his full presidential salary of more than $341,000 over the next year while he remains on sabbatical.
The board named FAMU Provost Larry Robinson as interim president.
The death of 26-year-old Robert Champion last November exposed the hazing culture at the university’s famed Marching 100 band, which has performed at Super Bowls and other high-profile events.
Eleven FAMU band members have pleaded not guilty to felony hazing charges, while two other face misdemeanor counts for alleged role in Champion’s hazing. The band’s longtime director, Julian White was fired. Champion’s family has sued the university.
Ammons had already launched initiatives to battle hazing, including strict new requirements fro membership in the Marching 100. But Ammon has to be held accountable for not doing enough earlier to stop the longstanding hazing culture at the university’s famed marching band.
Less than two weeks before Champion’s death, FAMU band member Bria Hunter was hospitalized with a broken leg and blood clots in what authorities say was another act of hazing.
There are two investigations under way, including a probe by the Florida Board of Governors into whether university officials ignored past warnings about hazing prior to Champion’s death.
FAMU can not stop at simply naming a new leader. To protect its student, reputation and future the university must improve its oversight over its famed marching band and send a strong and clear message that hazing will not be tolerated.