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The school’s trustees gave Ammons a vote of no-confidence in June, after questioning his leadership in several areas, including what some saw as his lax attitude toward hazing and management of the band prior to Champion’s death.
"This is not about hazing, this is about leadership, this is about serious lack of leadership," Montgomery said Wednesday.
Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back and died of internal bleeding. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers the drum major was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
Ammons suspended the band right after Champion’s death. He announced in May that the suspension would stay in effect for at least one more school year as officials moved ahead with trying to eliminate the hazing culture that surrounded the band. The president also recommended new stringent eligibility requirements for membership in the band.
Veteran band director Julian White was fired last year, but then his dismissal was placed on hold while the criminal investigation unfolded. He insisted he did nothing wrong and fought for months to get reinstated. He changed his mind in May and decided to retire after it was revealed that at least 100 band members were not students when Champion died.
Hours before Ammons’ announcement Wednesday, Champion’s parents added the university to a lawsuit they had brought against the bus driver, whom they alleged stood guard outside the bus while the hazing took place. The bus company owner initially said the driver was helping other band members with their equipment when the hazing took place.
The Champions claim Florida A&M University officials did not take action to stop hazing even though a school dean proposed suspending the band because of hazing concerns three days before their son died.
School officials also allowed nonstudents to play in the band, fell short in enforcing anti-hazing policies and did not keep a close eye on band members to prevent hazing, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks damages greater than $15,000, but does not give a specific amount. The university said in a statement that it knew the lawsuit was coming but had no further comment.
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