Status of Southern University band director unclear

Southern University Board of Directors Meeting on April 27 (Source: WAFB)
Southern University Board of Directors Meeting on April 27 (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Questions are swirling around Southern University Friday about whether the director of the university's famed marching band is still employed there.

It seems the relationship between the Human Jukebox band director, Nathan Haymer, and the university are out of tune after rumors ran rampant online that he was fired Thursday.

Several social media posts, including one from his brother and attorney, Niles Haymer, hinted that trouble was on the horizon. In part he wrote, "no matter what, I will forever stand with and march for my brother."

The Southern University newspaper, The Southern Digest, reported Friday morning Haymer had resigned.

However, the newspaper later revised its report to say Haymer had been given the "option to resign."

Haymer posted on his Facebook page Friday that he has not resigned.

A Southern University spokeswoman said Friday morning Haymer is still employed by the university.

According to the Southern Digest, Haymer was locked out of his office Thursday afternoon before announcing at an annual banquet that evening that he was allowed to either leave or be terminated.

"He just said that he was fired and that was all and from there the kids were upset," said Sonia Knighton-Taylor, who has a son in the band.

Dozens of band members and alumni flooded the Board of Supervisors meeting Friday demanding answers and vowing their unwavering support for the band's leader.

"The support we have for this band program and the man who leads it is real," said one supporter.

"He's the one who represents us and we're here to fight for him," another supporter added.

University leaders said they could not comment further on the situation Friday, only saying that Haymer was still employed with the school. Neither the university, nor the band's leader, provided much detail on what may have sparked the rumors, which left some supporters wanting more.

"Yeah, we need to get to the truth because if he's not [fired] then let's resolve this," said Knighton-Taylor.

A lawsuit was filed against Haymer a month ago, alleging he accepted kickbacks to schedule band performances, but he has since denied those claims. Whatever happens next though, student government president, Armond Duncan, assured students will depend on facts not rumors.

"Let's consider whatever the facts of the matter are and let them lead us where we may go," Duncan added.

Those who support him though say they are focused on Haymer clearing his name and moving past this sour note.

"The biggest asset for Southern University is the Human Jukebox and the biggest asset as far as personnel at Southern University is Nathan Haymer," said Julian Jackson, a former SU band member.

Still, others say the Human Jukebox Marching Band cannot exist without Nathan Haymer at the helm.

"For him to not be here would be a devastation for this university," said Knighton-Taylor.

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