FAMU hazing death: family sues school, president resigns


Florida A&M University's marching band performs during the Super Bowl pre-game show on Feb. 6, 2005, in Jacksonville.



Shortly before Robert Champion’s parents filed suit against Florida A&M University today, school president James Ammons submitted his resignation.

While the president didn’t specify the high-profile event led to his decision, the alleged hazing has followed him since it happened last year.

Ammons wrote in a letter to the board of trustees that “considerable thought, introspection and conversations with my family” led to the choice, The Famuan reported.

Champion, a 26-year-old drum major in FAMU’s famed Marching 100, died in Orlando after a football game. Officials suspect he was beaten to death inside the school bus in a hazing incident.

His parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming damages of more than $15,000; the lawsuit didn’t specify exactly how much more, Reuters reported.

They claim FAMU tolerated hazing that sent three other band members to hospital and cite at least 107 other incidents in 21 years.

“I personally am looking forward to getting answers for this family and finding out how this happened, why this happened and how we can prevent this from happening to other people,” lawyer Christopher Chestnut told Reuters.

More from GlobalPost: Criminal charges filed against 13 FAMU students

In the associated criminal case, 13 band members face charges – 11 with felony hazing with a maximum six years in jail – and two with misdemeanors.

The band has since been suspended for a year, and its director resigned in the spring.

Ammons’s resignation is effective Oct. 11, and he will remain a professor at FAMU, The Associated Press reported.

“Following the presidency, I will continue my work on science, technology, engineering and math STEM initiatives as a tenured full professor on our great faculty,” Ammons wrote.

More from GlobalPost: Documents show Champion agreed to hazing