Saturday, December 29, 2012

BOG ends wild goose chase, jumps off Julian White bandwagon

BOG Chairman Dean Colson, BOG Inspector General Derry Harper, and the entire BOG membership joined in on the wild goose hunt.
The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) jumped on the bandwagon of ex-Marching 100 Director Julian White shortly after FAMU announced his termination on Nov. 23, 2011. Yesterday, it officially jumped off.

BOG probe initially resembled a one-sided private investigation

Back on Nov. 29, 2011 then-BOG Chairwoman Ava Parker sent FAMU a letter stating that the board was going to investigate White’s allegations that “he received little support despite repeatedly advising current and former university administrators of hazing activities within the Marching 100 band.” It did not specifically mention any intent to examine then-President James H. Ammons’ claim about a lack of competence on White’s part.

The wild goose chase is finally over. More than a year after Parker’s letter, BOG Inspector General Derry Harper had no choice but to admit that the taxpayer-paid investigation into White’s allegations failed to find any evidence to back up the ex-band director’s claims about receiving “little help.”

“The allegation that FAMU staff failed to adequately address complaints of hazing by former Director of Bands was unsubstantiated,” Harper wrote.

White’s assertion that he did all he could to stop hazing ultimately failed to withstand media scrutiny.

Many FAMUans could not believe their ears when White told ESPN that he’d never heard of the “Crossing Bus C” ritual before Nov. 19, 2011 (the day Robert Champion died). Another embarrassment came when two Marching 100 staffers resigned after being linked to a hazing incident involving the university’s Kappa Kappa Psi chapter.

By the time Ammons reported that 101 ineligible individuals were on White’s Fall 2011 roster, the writing was on the wall. White finally stopped fighting and resigned.

White could not keep his story straight

The shoes continued to drop after White parted ways with FAMU. Former FAMU Police Chief Calvin Ross told the Orlando Sentinel in June that White opposed his recommendation to suspend the Marching 100 before the Florida Classic. Champion, a drum major, died after being hazed aboard a charter bus that was parked at the band's hotel.

White had trouble keeping his story straight during his Nov. 16, 2012 interview with the BOG Office of the Inspector General (OIG) concerning whether he supported the proposal to sideline the Marching 100 before the Classic.

“Dr. White said he would not have brought up suspending the Band from performing at Florida Classic because he ‘believed the guilty had been punished.’ He explained that there were over 300 students in the Band and it would not have been appropriate to suspend the entire group because of the actions of a few... However, when Dr. White’s interview resumed after a brief break, he changed his previous testimony, stating that he did recommend the Band not perform at the Florida Classic,” Harper wrote.

Claim that Ammons received stack of suspension letters from White prior to Classic unfounded

The BOG also looked into White’s claim that he sent the president’s office 30 letters dated November 8 and November 10 that detailed his decision to suspend band members who were suspected of hazing. He said that the senior administration failed to take strong action to protect the band students after it received that information.

Ammons said he did not receive the letters until after the Florida Classic.

“The 30 letters regarding the suspension of members of the band were delivered in bulk Tuesday, Nov. 29. They were time stamped and dated,” Ammons said in public statement.

The BOG report found no way to dispute Ammons’s account.

“The OIG investigation did confirm that Dr. White’s letters were received by the administrators he copied, but that because the letters were sent by campus mail or hand delivered, it is reasonable to conclude that the administrators saw the letters sometime after November 19, 2011, based upon the general practices in place for handling correspondence,” Harper wrote.

Now that the BOG is done using taxpayer money to hunt ganders with White, it has plenty of time to figure out some even more creative options to throw away the funds its OIG receives from the Florida Legislature.  

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