James Ammons announced the resignation, which takes effect Oct. 11, in a letter to the chairman of the university’s governing board. He said his decision came after “considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family.”
Ammons’ departure is the latest in a series of blows to the university that has seen its image badly bruised by Robert Champion’s death, the suspension of the band until 2013 and the springtime resignation of its veteran director.
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. Their trial is scheduled to begin the same month as Ammons’ resignation, in October.
Dreams of playing in the band drew students to apply to the university as much as if not more than, the school’s academic program, and the same professional performances that led it to play at Super Bowls and presidential inaugurations were a huge attendance draw at football games.
An alumnus and former top administrator of the school, the president was first hired to help steady FAMU in the wake of financial woes and threats to its accreditation.
But Champion’s death put a spotlight on a hazing culture that he and other top FAMU officials have been unable to eradicate.