TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — 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.
Scott said he doesn’t have any evidence that Ammons did anything wrong, he thinks a suspension is warranted.
“I think it is in the president’s best interest and the school 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.
The board last week discussed suspending Ammons, but instead voted to publicly reprimand him. The board meets again Monday.
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.
A spokeswoman for FAMU said she was unaware of the governor’s statement and could not comment immediately.
There are currently two criminal investigations as well as a probe into whether FAMU officials had ignored past warnings about hazing.
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.