2 FAMU professors resign amid 2010 hazing review

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 5:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 5:45 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Two Florida A&M University music professors who allegedly were present during the hazing of band fraternity pledges have been forced out, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Both faculty members had been placed on paid administrative leave in late March after a Tallahassee Police Department report quoted witnesses as saying they were on hand when the hazing occurred at the home of one of the professors in early 2010.

The university has been the focus of intense scrutiny since the unrelated hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion while the famed Marching 100 was in Orlando for a football game last November.

Diron Holloway, the band's director of saxophones, and Anthony Simons, an assistant professor of music, resigned last week after receiving notices that they had 10 days to contest their impending dismissals, said attorney Mutaqee Akbar.

"They both decided to resign from the university and pursue other career opportunities," Akbar said.

He said no one from the school discussed the allegations with them.

Both want to remain in education but plan no further action related to their employment at Florida A&M, Akbar said. He said very preliminary steps have been taken to explore whether they might have legal recourse to clear their names, such as a lawsuit alleging defamation of character.

The police report said pledges to the Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity were slapped on the neck and back and may have been paddled in early 2010. It listed both faculty members as suspects in the alleged hazing but said no charges were filed because a two-year statute of limitations had passed.

The university issued a statement from its general counsel, Avery McKnight, saying only that "appropriate employment actions" have been taken against the professors. McKnight cited a confidentiality law that says employment documents can only be released with a faculty member's consent or court order.

The allegations were reported to campus police last November, two days after Champion's death. He died after suffering from blunt trauma aboard a band bus. Authorities found he went into shock due to internal bleeding.

No charges have been filed in that case so far, but authorities have scheduled a news conference on Wednesday to announce the results of their investigation.

The university has suspended the band and launched a task force to recommend steps it can take to curtail hazing, the subject of complaints involving the university band for years.

The state has two classes of hazing, a felony and a misdemeanor. There's a three-year statute of limitations for felony hazing but such cases require proof of great bodily harm. There was no evidence of such injuries in the early 2010 case.

City police blamed a lengthy delay in launching the investigation because they learned of the allegations only through media reports on Jan. 20, two months after campus police had been notified.

A FAMU police report indicated the matter was referred to city police because the alleged hazing happened off campus. Tallahassee police, though, said they had no record of the case being sent to them.

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