TRANSCRIPT: FAMU President James Ammons Speaks With ABC News' Matt Gutman

The president spoke with ABC News on Nov. 24, 2011.

ByABC News
November 27, 2011, 9:38 PM

Nov. 28, 2011 — -- The following is a transcript from ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman's interview with Florida A&M University president James Ammons on Nov. 23, 2011.

Matt Gutman: Thank you for doing this… I wonder if you can tell me what happened on Saturday.

James Ammons: I don't know what happened. This is of course one of the reasons that the Orange County Sheriff Department is conducting this investigation into the activities that went on on Saturday night. But I'm encouraging this campus, anyone on this campus who may have any information regarding these activities regarding Robert Champion's death to fully cooperate with the investigation and to assure them that there will be no retaliation for anyone who cooperates fully but there will be consequences for those who try to impede this investigation.

Matt Gutman: I understand. Will there be consequences for those who allowed this alleged hazing to happen?

James Ammons: We are looking into all of the details around hazing, and there will be consequences for anyone. It is illegal in the state of Florida. We have been working extremely hard here at FAMU to eradicate hazing from this campus. And there will be both university action taken and certainly if people are convicted of hazing, there will be legal actions taken.

Matt Gutman: Were you aware of this alleged hazing?

James Ammons: I was made aware of the alleged hazing during the investigation and with the confirmation of Sheriff Demmings on yesterday that there was in fact hazing taking place.

Matt Gutman: So until you spoke with the sheriff, you were unaware that there was hazing taking place, despite the fact that parents have been sending band director Julian White emails for months and years indicating that their children were being hazed?

James Ammons: Well, there have been throughout the years allegations of hazing and also confirmed instances of hazing. We have worked extremely hard, and the important thing is here that we're going to get to the bottom of this. We have suspended the band's operations; we have put in place a task force that's being headed by the former attorney general of the state of Florida, Bob Butterworth, and Walt McNeil, who is the chair of the international police chiefs association. We have taken all of the steps necessary to put this in the past at FL A&M University. And I think that's really the important thing that everyone needs to know, that we are not going to tolerate hazing on this campus and we have a lot of help now to get to the root cause of it and end it once and for all.

Matt Gutman: But sir, it seems like you've been tolerating for over a decade, since Marcus Parker was so badly paddled that he lost function of his kidneys.

James Ammons: I have, um, been, uh, with the university since 2007, and it has been the policy of this administration, and of the university, and the state of Florida that hazing is not something that would take place on this campus.

Matt Gutman: But parents were warning you repeatedly via emails to the band director saying that hazing was going on -- this year.

James Ammons: In those instances where hazing was confirmed, there were actions taken, both in the university and from the legal community.

Matt Gutman: Has action been taken this year against band members?

James Ammons: The investigations are ongoing for those instances where hazing has been alleged, and so those investigations are in the process right now.