Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Scott wants FAMU president suspended

FAMU band members lead a carriage carrying the casket of drum major Robert Champion, who died last month.

Associated Press

FAMU band members lead a carriage carrying the casket of drum major Robert Champion, who died last month.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he wants the president of Florida A&M University suspended amid multiple investigations spurred by the death of a drum major in a suspected case of hazing.

Scott, who just returned from a seven-day trip to Israel, called the chairman of the FAMU board on Thursday and asked him to suspend James Ammons immediately.

The board last week discussed suspending Ammons, but instead voted to publicly reprimand him. Board chairman Solomon L. Badger said the trustees will meet Monday to consider the governor's request.

"This is a very difficult decision that we are facing," he said. "We have supported President Ammons' leadership even through this crisis."

Scott said he doesn't have any evidence that Ammons did anything wrong, but that he thinks a suspension is warranted.

"I think it is in the president's best interest and the school's best interest that he step aside," Scott told reporters as he arrived at Tallahassee Regional Airport. But he said he told Ammons he didn't think he needed to resign until the investigations into the death of drum major Robert Champion and the FAMU band's finances are finished.

Ammons, in a statement released Thursday afternoon, said he is sure that the investigation will reveal that the administration acted appropriately under his leadership.

"I serve at the pleasure of the FAMU Board of Trustees and I will abide by whatever decision the board reaches," he said.

It was Scott who ordered Florida's law enforcement agency to join an investigation into Champion's death. The Marching 100 band member died following a FAMU football game last month in Orlando and hazing is suspected in his death.

State law enforcement officials earlier this week announced they have opened a second investigation into possible criminal violations dealing with the band's finances.

This week, police also arrested three band members accused of beating a female member so severely during hazing rituals that they broke her thigh. Tallahassee police said Monday that in hazing ceremonies Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the three struck Bria Shante Hunter's legs with their fists and with a metal ruler to initiate her into the "Red Dawg Order." It's a band clique for students who come from Georgia.

Local alumni had mixed reactions to Scott's request.

"A suspension is more than appropriate," said St. Petersburg resident Donnie Ibn Malik Ali-McClendon, 29, who graduated from FAMU in 2005. "If anybody should be held accountable, it should be the president."

Others, however, said they didn't think Ammons' suspension would accomplish much.

"I think it's unfair," said Celeste Thomas, a guidance counselor at Lakewood High School, who earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from FAMU. "I don't think he knew about it. … From what I can see, he's cooperated (with the investigation) and he's done pretty much what the community thinks he should do."

Scott said his request that Ammons step aside is needed to assure people the university is fully cooperating with investigators. Scott, however, said he has not been told that university officials are hampering the investigation.

Gov. Scott wants FAMU president suspended 12/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 15, 2011 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.