UPDATE: Here’s the complaint, and it’s a monster. If what’s in it is true, this isn’t just some civil suit; the district attorney, possibly the Attorney General’s office and maybe even the U.S. Attorney ought to think about an investigation of LSU’s School of Music and administration.
King is apparently being fired for a number of reasons, all of which come off like fairly weak pretexts for the main cause that has been alleged all along; namely, that the School of Music wants a chunk of the million dollars a year the LSU Athletic Department pays the LSU band to cover stipends and scholarships for the band, the Golden Girls and the Color Guard. King fought that, so he had to go – and at least according to the complaint there’s a paper trail indicating that a number of officials at LSU, from school president F. King Alexander on down to the Human Resources director at LSU A.G. Monaco, to the Dean of the music school Jeff Queen, to the Director of Bands Damon Talley, conspired to get rid of him.
There’s a lot in the complaint, which is 19 pages’ worth, but three extremely interesting things are in there which if true as written in the complaint ought to get a criminal investigation going.
First, there is a story in there about a $50,000 donation offered in 2010 toward fixing the LSU band hall in return for the donor getting the band, or members of it, to play at his son’s wedding. But according to the complaint Larry Kaptain, then Dean of the LSU School of Music, told King he wanted access to the $50,000 for other things the Music School wanted to spend it on and there was friction about that. King’s position was that the donor’s intent ought to be honored and it wouldn’t be right to convert money from a donor against the donor’s wishes. But Kaptain and other LSU officials actually offered to give King a “special assignment” within the Music School that would allow him a stipend out of the $50,000 if he relented.
Next is a story about another donation, this one a $500,000 gift to LSU in the fall of 2015 to fund scholarships for the Golden Girls. The meeting to secure the donation was to take place in Syracuse, though apparently not on the same weekend LSU’s football team played there because King couldn’t get the Music School’s agreement to pay to fly him up to that Western New York city for the meeting. King got the athletic department to pay for his flight and secured the donation, after which LSU Director of Bands Damon Talley demanded he change the wording of the donor contract post-signing so that the Music School would have access to the funds. When King refused, his “disobedience” after being “denied” permission to travel to Syracuse was later listed as a cause for his firing, according to the complaint.
And third, among a number of other particulars, is an allegation of defamation against Alexander himself – specifically, that the university’s president had made references to King manifesting inappropriate conduct toward LSU Band members in a way reminiscent of “a Penn State situation” and that King was “lining up” members of the Golden Girls for inspection and “mistreating” them. In context with some other things where Alexander’s involvement is alleged in the complaint, the suit is suggesting that Alexander was out telling tales about King in a manner that would make him radioactive among donors and others in the LSU community who might otherwise protest his dismissal.
The complaint also alleges something else vibrating on the LSU grapevine; namely that Queen was brought in from Colorado State as the Dean of the Music School expressly for the purpose of getting rid of King and capturing those band funds from the athletic department, and that this is a largely identical action to one Queen had done in Ft. Collins before his arrival at LSU – the complaint even names the former band director at Colorado State that Queen allegedly fired for the purpose of securing the band funds for the music school there.
Jill Craft, King’s attorney, has a reputation for a lot of wild storytelling on her clients’ behalf and she is a frequent attorney for ex-LSU employees alleging mistreatment by the university. This might mitigate toward King’s complaint lacking veracity. On the other hand, King spent 20 years at LSU and until recently no one had ever complained about his management of the band’s finances or comportment in his job. It’s fair to criticize some of the musical selections the band has performed over the years – if there’s a silver lining to King’s firing it might be that it signals the end of the ubiquitous “Latin flair” at halftime – but none of that apparently enters into this case.
LSU’s answer to the suit will be interesting. One expects to hear a full-throated denial. But this could well become inconvenient, particularly if the DA, AG and U.S. Attorney find it interesting. It could well be that firing King was a colossal mistake, and firing him without just coming up with a buyout figure to do it amicably was an even bigger one.
ORIGINAL: The LSU Band kerfuffle is now officially a legal case, as we knew it would be.
Roy King, the fired LSU Golden Band from Tiger Land director, is seeking monetary damages in a lawsuit he filed Monday afternoon against the university.
King, who was the athletic marching band director for five years and had worked in the band’s administration for 18 years, was terminated April 19 after being put on administrative leave April 6 pending an investigation.
King’s termination letter accused him of, among other things, wrongfully giving out scholarships to members of the Golden Girls and the Color Guard, a practice his attorney says has gone on for years and one that uses money designated from athletics and not the LSU School of Music.
We’re looking for a copy of the complaint. As soon as we find one we’ll update this post with it.