Fired LSU band director Roy King to have suit handled in federal court _lowres

Photo by RACHEL SALTZBERG -- LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King spends a moment with band members before halftime during the 2014 football season.

LSU faulted the former head of the Golden Band from Tigerland for awarding scholarships to the Golden Girls and the Color Guard without proper approval, according to an internal audit released Thursday at The Advocate’s request.

Roy King, who had been in Tiger Band as a student and had been employed at LSU since June 1998, was fired April 19. He filed a lawsuit last week.

The audit cited six different issues, in which LSU claims King violated policy. In addition to allegations that King circumvented management directives, LSU claims he is unable to account for $5,429 in university funds.

King’s lawyer, Jill Craft, said this was all about the marching band director refusing to quietly go along with redirecting a $50,000 contribution from supporting the band to paying for programs in the School of Music.

“He refused to play ball in the manner they wanted him to,” Craft said.

Craft added that she’s baffled that after four months of poring over every email and document in King’s life, the best they could come up with were the allegations in the nine-page report.

The LSU Press Office issued a statement denying that any “money grab” took place. “Mr. King’s lawsuit contains a number of false claims that had no bearing on his termination — the reasons for which were explained in a letter sent to him and are documented in an internal audit report, in addition to a separate investigation conducted by LSU’s human resource management office. Mr. King was afforded all due process leading up to his termination,” the statement said.

LSU did not respond when asked if any of the information gleaned from its audit was turned over the state or federal prosecutors.

A key issue is the award of scholarships to members of the Golden Girls dance team and the flag girls of the Color Guard.

LSU allocates $325,000 — $1,000 stipends to all members of the LSU band — and $70,000 in scholarships aimed at attracting “blue chip” instrumentalists. Some of that money, for years, has gone to members of the Golden Girls and the flag girls, who also are part of the band.

The Athletic Band Scholarship program was established in 1971 and was awarded to all members of the band, including the Golden Girls and the Color Guard. In 1978, an additional 40 scholarships were added for “outstanding instrumentalists.”

The director of bands, King’s immediate supervisor, has administrative oversight over the stipends and scholarships. Wording in the department’s budget documents for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2014, reflects the “intent to restrict the scholarships to instrumentalists.”

King was told directly “that these funds were not intended for any band member who was not an instrumentalist, such as Golden Girls and Color Guard.”

King directed $14,000 to members of the Golden Girls and Color Guard without the approval of the dean of the School of Music and the director of bands, according to the audit. He, therefore, violated the university’s policy.

Craft replied that inter-office emails clearly show the supervisors signed off on every recommendation King made for the scholarships.

Another allegation raised in the audit involves a $6,000 travel advance King received on Dec. 21. LSU played Texas Tech on the Dec. 29 in Houston. He returned an envelope with receipts and cash from the Houston trip in January, just after the Christmas break.

The Administrative Coordinator said she didn’t count the cash or check the receipts but following the usual procedure over the years kept the envelope in and around her desk. Craft said this is usual because students need to but are notoriously slow about turning in their baggage receipts for sending their instruments as luggage when the band flies some place to perform.

During the week of Feb. 29 — roughly seven weeks later — the coordinator noticed cash was missing from the envelope but didn’t notify anyone. After the receipts were tallied, LSU found a $5,429.45 balance, “for which no accounting has been provided.”

LSU also faulted King for releasing “confidential personnel records in violation of university policy,” by emailing the résumés of applicants for the position of the dean of the School of Music.

Craft said the résumés were emailed by school officials to faculty and administrators asking for comments. King forwarded a few to current and former LSU employees, she said.

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