Rick Scott Quietly Awaits FAMU Board's Response to Hazing Death Arrests

By: Jim Turner | Posted: May 8, 2012 3:55 AM
James Ammons

FAMU President James Ammons | Credit: Rattler Nation

The governor appears to be biding his time with Florida A&M University.

Gov. Rick Scott said he isn’t going to take any action over James H. Ammons, the FAMU president, until he sees how the FAMU board of trustees handles the leadership at the Tallahassee school now that 13 students were charged last week in the hazing death of a member of the famed Marching 100 band.

The board soundly rejected Scott’s call for Ammons to be suspended in December while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the death of Robert Champion.

On Monday, Scott -- who revamped the majority on the Edison State College board of trustees after a scandal erupted last fall over the now-former president’s $837,000 a year salary -- simply told reporters that he is now waiting to see the board’s reaction in the wake of the arrests.

“We’ve got a board of trustees, it’s their responsibility,” Scott told reporters Monday outside the Capitol.

“I believe justice is going to prevail, which is the right thing,” Scott added. “I suggested President Ammons step aside during the investigation but the board is going to make a decision.”

On May 2, Lawson Lamar, state attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida, announced that criminal charges have been filed against 13 FAMU students accused in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion Jr.

The Orange County medical examiner reported that the 26-year-old drum major at FAMU died Nov. 19 as a result of a soft tissue hemorrhage “incurred by blunt-force trauma sustained during a hazing incident.”

Champion and the band were attending the Florida Classic football game in Orlando.

In December, the board of trustees soundly snubbed Scott’s call for Ammons to be removed pending the outcome of investigations into Champion’s death, a report of potential financial misconduct involving the university, and the school administration’s reaction to an on-campus report of child molestation earlier in 2011.

Students marched on the governor’s mansion, and alumni that included U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, told the governor to basically mind his own business.

In January, FAMU’s board of trustees created a five-member committee with the goal of eradicating hazing, as well as an on-site memorial and scholarship dedicated to Champion.

After the charges against the students were announced last week, FAMU board of trustees chairman, Solomon Badger, and Ammons released a statement that they were “vigorously working to eradicate hazing from FAMU and doing everything within our power to ensure an incident like this never happens again.”

The school has indefinitely suspended the FAMU marching band and canceled the 2012 FAMU summer band camp for high school students.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (1)

Peggie Brown
9:13PM MAY 8TH 2012
I am glad to see that these students are being charged. I feel that the band should no longer be suspended. Let start 2012 off right. The Champion family must realize that there son was not force on that bus. We have to be responsible for our own actions.

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