The director of LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland, Roy King, was put on paid administrative leave Wednesday.
King has been the athletic marching band director for five years and has worked in the band’s administration for 18.
King’s attorney, Jill Craft, called the decision a “travesty.” She said King is the target of a “witch hunt” led by LSU’s School of Music to try to control athletic funds that go toward the Tiger Band, Color Guard and Golden Girls, which are all under his watch.
A spokesman for LSU’s administration denied the personnel decision was related to bad blood with the School of Music.
“Normally, we would not comment on personnel matters, but as his counsel has made public, he is on administrative leave,” Ernie Ballard said. “However, this is not as a result of any alleged dispute between Tiger Band and the School of Music. As of this time, this matter is ongoing, and the university plans to not comment further.”
King is on leave pending an investigation by LSU’s human resources department, Craft said. King was informed Wednesday morning in a meeting with the director of human resources and members of LSU’s internal auditing.
She said King has been investigated by LSU for the past 3½ months, and the accusations have been inconsistent and unclear.
“Starting in the fall of the last school year, there was an effort on part of administrators in the School of Music to get their hands on the budget for the Golden Band from Tigerland,” Craft said. “Rightfully so, my client refused to allow that to happen, and immediately after refusing to allow that to happen, they opened a ridiculous investigation into him, which has included pulling every email he’s ever sent over the last 18 years of his employment.”
Craft said LSU officials have taken issue with Golden Girls dance team members receiving stipends or scholarships, “even though they have over the last several decades.”
Craft accused School of Music officials of saying they were working to find ways to extend Tiger Band scholarships to music students who are not on the LSU band.
She said in meetings, administrators disparaged the quality of LSU’s band, calling them the “laughingstock of the country.”
But she said it was not specifically evident that King was being penalized for his performance. She said in meetings, there was a single mention of an instance of alleged “insubordination.”
King could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. But contacted last week to comment on rumors about a potential rift, King said he was unaware of any move to remove him from his job, adding that he had no desire to leave.
“Nothing is happening as far as I know,” he said last week. “I’ve been here quite some time.”
In 2013, King was named Band Director of the Year by the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity. As a student, he was the LSU band’s drum line captain in the 1980s.
Craft said King is hopeful he’ll be able to retain his job.
“I hope to God my client isn’t just hanging in the wind like LSU did to its football coach not too long ago,” she said, referring to widespread reports that LSU administrators were planning to fire LSU coach Les Miles. “I get that there’s a budget crisis, but that doesn’t mean you try to destroy someone like Roy King.”
Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen.