TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida A&M University's president reached an agreement with school officials to immediately resign Monday after facing months of criticism in the hazing death of a marching band member.
Last week, James Ammons had submitted a letter stating his resignation would not take effect until Oct. 11. However, he waived a provision allowing him to give 90 days notice to the FAMU board in exchange for getting paid bonuses.
Ammons will be paid more than $98,000 in performance bonuses from his last two years in office — and will still earn his full presidential salary of more than $341,000 over the next year while he remains on sabbatical. Ammons plans eventually to return to FAMU as a member of the faculty.
The school's governing board — which held an emergency conference call to discuss Ammons' resignation — voted in favor of the deal and named FAMU Provost Larry Robinson as interim president.
The death of 26-year-old Robert Champion unraveled the hazing culture at the university, specifically within the famed Marching 100 band. Trustees have complained about a lack of oversight of the band as well as lax management on other issues at the university.
Eleven FAMU band members face felony hazing charges, while two others face misdemeanor counts for alleged roles in Champion's hazing. They have pleaded not guilty. Meanwhile, Champion's family has sued the university.
The band has already been suspended until 2013. And there are still two investigations under way, including a probe by the Florida Board of Governors into whether university officials ignored past warnings about hazing prior to Champion's death
Interim president Robinson had previously served in the administration of President Barack Obama as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also briefly served as the top official in charge of FAMU back in 200, before Ammons was appointed president.
FAMU's board spent more than an hour discussing whether to make Robinson interim president so quickly. Questions remain about whether other candidates should be considered — and whether an interim president is eligible to apply for the job permanently.