The legal battle between fired Golden Band from Tigerland director Roy King and LSU will be played out in federal court.
King sued the university last month in state district court in Baton Rouge, but LSU filed notice June 10 seeking to have the case moved to U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge because King’s lawsuit alleges claims under both federal and state law.
King’s lead attorney, Jill Craft, said she won’t oppose LSU’s notice of removal because the school has the right to have the litigation transferred to federal court. Craft said she is prepared to fight for King no matter what the venue.
“Wherever and whenever,” she said.
Federal court documents indicate the case has been assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson. In the 19th Judicial District Court, it had been assigned to state District Judge Don Johnson.
King, who was in Tiger Band as a student and had worked at LSU since 1998, contends he was terminated April 19 in violation of his First Amendment rights and his due process rights. He also accuses the school of defamation, libel and slander.
King’s termination letter accused him of, among other things, circumventing management directives by awarding scholarships to members of the Golden Girls dance team and flag girls of the color guard without proper approval.
Craft has said King’s supervisors signed off on every recommendation he made for the scholarships.
LSU allocates $325,000 — $1,000 stipends to all LSU band members — and $70,000 in scholarships aimed at luring “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.
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard has said an internal audit and a separate investigation conducted by LSU’s human resource management office led to the decision to fire King.
LSU also claims King cannot account for more than $5,400 in university funds, according to the audit report released several days after he filed suit. Craft says a School of Music employee has acknowledged the missing money was the employee’s fault.
King alleges in the suit that he was fired because he refused to quietly go along with redirecting a $50,000 contribution from supporting the band to paying for programs in the School of Music.
LSU has denied Craft’s assertion that King’s firing was a “money grab” by the School of Music.
King worked in the band’s administration for 18 years and was the athletic marching band director for five years.
The named defendants in King’s suit are the LSU Board of Supervisors; LSU Chancellor and President F. King Alexander; School of Music Dean Todd Queen; Damon Talley, the director of bands; and A.G. Monaco, the university’s human resources director.