*The attorney for former Florida A&M University band director Julian White, fired following the recent death of a drum major from DeKalb County, said his client wants his job back and may seek legal action if he’s not reinstated, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Dr. White has been at the vanguard of implementing measures to eliminate hazing within the Marching 100 over the past 22 years,” wrote Tallahassee attorney Chuck Hobbs in a letter sent to FAMU president James Ammons and released to the media Sunday. “We also believe that the evidence will show that Dr. White has often been a man on a solo mission in his best efforts to root out the practice of hazing.”
Ammons fired White on Wednesday for “alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing” one day after shutting down all marching band activities.
Drum major Robert Champion, 26, was found inside a parked bus vomiting and complaining of shortness of breath after FAMU’s football team lost Nov. 19 to arch-rival Bethune-Cookman University. A clarinet player who had recently been named drum major, Champion collapsed and was later pronounced dead after being taken to a nearby hospital. It could be months before a cause of death is determined, according to the Orange County, Fla. medical examiner’s office.
Although no one has yet to be charged, FAMU officials have indicated that hazing was a factor. Over the last decade, there have been at two major hazing incidents involving the university’s Marching 100 and at least 30 members of the band were suspended this semester for hazing, according to reports from Tallahassee.
Hobbs said White was fired prematurely and without just cause. According to the attorney, Ammons on Wednesday told White his “time was up” and offered him the option of resigning. The band director responded with a letter saying he would not resign because he “followed all university rules and protocol.” He was subsequently dismissed.
White was a tenured professor of music at FAMU and, according to his lawyer, rules regarding his position with the university were ignored.
“[We] believe that his removal for the specious allegations of wrongdoing with respect to hazing is protected by the rules regarding tenure and could subject the university to separate legal action if he is denied the privileges and protections appertaining to his rank,” Hobbs wrote.
Champion’s family has also hired an attorney who indicated the family plans to sue White and FAMU.