LSU officials terminated Roy King, LSU's Band Director, Tuesday. He received a letter from the school telling him of the termination after a four month investigation into him. LSU officials met with members of the band to announce the decision.
LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard released this statement:
"Today’s meeting with Tiger Band members was to announce that Dr. Dennis Llinas, the associate director of bands, will serve as our interim Tiger Band director. The Tiger Band is one of LSU’s most treasured and respected institutions. Our priority is that it continues to thrive and prosper, and that the experience is as great for the students who play in it as it is for the band’s many fans. We can confirm that Mr. King is no longer employed by LSU. We have provided Mr.
King with a letter outlining our reasons based on an investigation related to adherence of policies, procedures and financial safeguards meant to protect Tiger Band and LSU. As this is a personnel matter, we can not provide further comment.”
The school's investigation concluded that King wrongfully gave out scholarships to members of the Golden Girls and Color Guard. It is believed that this has been going on for many years, however, many have questioned whether these actions were negatively impacting the school or band program. The money that was used for scholarships is believed to be money from the athletics appropriation to the band not money from the School of Music.
Earlier this week, LSU President F. King Alexander released the following statement:
"Tiger Band is a treasure to our University, and we have an obligation to protect it and honor its traditions. The situation you referenced is a personnel matter, and a review is underway,” Alexander wrote in related questions and complaints about King. “However, I would like to dispel the persistent rumors about budget changes and alterations in scholarship awards. That just is not true. We would have preferred to handle this case privately, but as significant accusations toward the university were made in the press, I felt it important to respond to the concerned friends who wrote to me.”
King was put on paid administrative leave on April 6th.
Last year the band's annual concert Tigerama was almost canceled due to budgetary concerns. Sources also told us that in-fighting within the School of Music and the Tiger Band have been going on for years. Funding for the band actually comes from Athletics not the School of Music which makes all of this even more interesting.
When the story first broke back in early April, we spoke with multiple alumni about the news and they were split on their opinions of the decision to put King on leave. Two alumni we spoke with said this move didn't come as a surprise and that they believe the band has fallen far from where it used to be in relation to other SEC bands. Another told us that in the past few years he has seen a continual decline in the quality of halftime show performances and believes that the lack of creativity comes from the top. On the flip side multiple alumni voiced their support for King and on twitter the hashtag #FreeRoy had been passed around.
Last season the LSU Band almost gave up three of their halftime shows to play with musical acts at their games. While it excited members and students at the school, one of the alums we spoke with called it "a desperate grab for attention from a sinking ship". Only one of those acts actually happened as the band performed with Three Doors Down late in the season.
The band was praised nationally this past season for it's efforts to support the Carolina Band out of the University of South Carolina when the USC band couldn't make the trip to Baton Rouge after the football game between the two schools was rescheduled to be played at LSU as a result of flooding throughout South Carolina. The Tiger Band learned the USC fight song and the Alma Mater for that game.
King was the Director of the Tiger Band for five years and has been part of the program for 18. He is also an alumnus of LSU and marched in the band as a student.