Tallahassee, Fla.-- Gov. Rick Scott says he thinks it's in the best interest of Florida A&M University for University President James Ammons to step aside while the state investigates the death of a band member and financial irregularities at the school.
Gov. Scott made those comments on Friday as FAMU struggled with new accusations of financial improprieties in connection with the Marching 100 Band and university operations.
Scott says he wants to make sure the investigations are fair and open. He believes the best way to ensure complete cooperation is for Ammons to step aside.
That viewpoint angered several hundred FAMU students, who marched to the Governor's Mansion Thursday night. They urged the governor to back off his push to get the FAMU Board of Trustees to suspend Ammons.
Scott remains convinced that Ammons should step down during the investigation. But the governor says Ammons should keep his job if he's cleared by the investigation.
"My goal is to make sure that everyone is comfortable, that the investigation that the university is going through, that everybody feels comfortable, that it's fair and open and people are cooperating and if he has had no involvement, if there's anything that he couldn't have done a better job, then he ought to be back there. I'm more interested in having an environment where everyone feels comfortable, that the way the investigation is being handled is proper and that's more what my focus is."
Gov. Scott appoints members of the FAMU Board of Trustees, along with the Florida Board of Governors. So he wields considerable influence over how the school is run.
"I care about what happens to FAMU. It's important to our state. It's important to the country and I want to make sure that I let people know what I believe because I believe it's the right thing for James Ammons, the President, I think it's the right thing for FAMU and I think it's the right thing for the state," said Scott.
The FAMU Board of Trustees has called an emergency meeting next Monday to discuss Gov. Scott's recommendation.
They have already debated Ammons' performance in connection with the hazing death of band member Robert Champion. In that case, they reprimanded Ammons for the way he handled the situation.
First Coast News