Head of university system asked to investigate FAMU's response to hazing allegations
Claims by ousted Florida A&M University band director Julian White that administrators offered little support for his anti-hazing efforts are of "grave concern" and should be investigated, the chairwoman of the Florida Board of Governors said Tuesday.
In a letter to the chairman of FAMU's Board of Trustees, Ava Parker called on State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan to investigate "whether university administration took appropriate action to address the hazing activities referenced by Dr. White and any hazing activities in the student population at large."
FAMU President James Ammons fired White last week for failing to eradicate hazing in the band during his 13-year tenure. Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators said 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion was hazed prior to his death hours after performing in a halftime show in Orlando. His cause of death may not be known for three months.
White demanded his reinstatement on Monday, insisting he often suspended band members suspected of hazing and shared their names with top administrators, including Ammons, who did not take further action.
Parker wants Brogan to conduct an investigation into White's allegations through the board's Office of Inspector General. Her request comes on top of investigations by a special task force, which Ammons assembled to look into FAMU's culture of hazing, and by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which will examine the events that led to Champion's death Nov. 19 at the request of Gov. Rick Scott.
"We know that you share our concern that all appropriate institutional controls be adhered to by university administration to effectively deter hazing activities and respond promptly and appropriately when such activities occur," Parker wrote to BOT Chairman Solomon Badger. "As the university engages in its review of the hazing activities of the Marching 100 band, please apprise the Board and Chancellor Brogan of all findings and conclusions reached as a result of that examination."
Badger had expressed confidence in Ammons on Friday, two days after White's dismissal. He said Ammons was handling the matter appropriately.
Parker's letter is attached below.
- Times staff writer Katie Sanders