Jul 12, 2012 07:59 AM EDT
FAMU President Resigns Amid Controversy Over Hazing Death
Amid the ongoing controversy over the death of a drum major student at the Florida A&M University (FAMU), the university's President James Ammons resigned from his post Wednesday the same day as the victim's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.
Ammons submitted his resignation letter to the Chairman Solomon Badger III and members of the Board of Trustees in which he stated, "After considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family, I have decided to resign from my position as president in order to initiate my retirement on Oct. 11, 2012."
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"Following the presidency, I will continue my work on science, technology, engineering and math initiatives as a tenured full professor on our great faculty," he added.
Robert Champion was found dead in a bus last November outside an Orlando hotel after performing at a football match between FAMU and their archrival Bethune-Cookman University. Champion reportedly was beaten up by his fellow band students during a hazing ritual that went wrong.
Ammons, who is serving as the university's President, already received no-confidence vote from the university's trustees in June. It is not known whether the legal suit filed by the Champion's parents Robert and Pamela has to do with Ammons announcing his resignation the same day.
Champion's parents demanded action to be taken against the University for allowing non-students to play in the band and for not controlling the hazing culture that is prevalent among the university students in their lawsuit. They also asked for financial damages more than $15,000 from the university, reported the Associated Press.
The university is facing a series of troubles after Champion's death. The university's popular band "Marching 100" was suspended till 2013. As many as 11 band students are facing charges of hazing and will stand trial on Oct. 11.
The university's troubles never seem to end with the President's resignation adding to their list of woes, though the decision was not totally unexpected considering the amount of pressure Ammons was facing.
"I am saddened by President Ammons' decision to resign, but it is his choice to do so," said Solomon Badger III, Chair, FAMU's Board of Trustees.
"Given all that has transpired, it seems to be in the best interest of the University and I applaud him for putting FAMU ahead of his personal goals."
Ammons will step down from his post with effect from October 11 this year, the same month when the 11 band members will face trial on hazing charges.
Hazing takes various forms, but typically involves physical risks or mental distress through humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment. According to a CNN report, nine men were accused of "endangering the mental or physical health or safety" for their alleged role in an initiation rite into a University of Florida fraternity in May. They could face one year jail term if their charges are proved.