FAMU president resigns amid band hazing scandal

Robert Champion died in Orlando following beating on bus

ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida A&M President James Ammons has resigned, the same day the parents of a drum major who died after being hazed added the university to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Ammons resigned Wednesday in a letter to the university governing board. The resignation takes effect Oct. 11. According to his resignation letter, Ammons will resign from his post as president, but will remain a tenured professor at the university.

Robert Champion died in November after being beaten by fellow band members during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel following a football game against the school's archrival.

Eleven FAMU band members face felony hazing charges, while two others face misdemeanor counts for alleged roles in the hazing. They have pleaded not guilty.

Champion's death put a spotlight on hazing at the school and led to the suspension of the band until at least next year.

Champion's parents held a news conference in Orlando on Wednesday to discuss the lawsuit, which claims FAMU officials didn't take enough action to stop hazing.

The family's lawyer, Christopher Chestnut, said they filed the 33-page lawsuit on Wednesday.

"There is some solace in the fact that we can finally formally seek discovery in this case," said Chestnut. Chestnut didn't comment on the president's resignation, but Champion's mother, Pamela, said the university needed to "clean house" to move on.

Champion's parents have already sued the bus company, claiming the driver stood guard outside while the hazing took place. The company said the driver was helping band members with their equipment. They couldn't file a suit against FAMU until 6 months after the incident because of Florida statues protecting the university.

According to the lawsuit, over the years, eight students had been hospitalized after hazing incidents and 47 students had been suspended for hazing.

Even though a dean wanted to suspend the band after the October incident, the suit alleges.

"FAMU refused to suspend the FAMU band prior to the Florida Classic, due to the public notoriety and financial gain," the document states.

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