Southern University fires band director amid controversy

Nathan Haymer's attorney says he was given the option to either resign or be fired, but he chose not to step aside (Source: WAFB)
Nathan Haymer's attorney says he was given the option to either resign or be fired, but he chose not to step aside (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Southern University and band director for the Human Jukebox Marching Band, Nathan B. Haymer, has been fired, according to his attorney.

A spokesperson with the university also confirmed Haymer's termination Tuesday afternoon.

The school's president, Dr. Ray L. Belton, released a statement to the community about the firing. Read the letter below.

Questions over Haymer’s fate with the university began swirling late Thursday night, April 26, after the band director allegedly told students at a band function that evening that he was fired.

Last Friday, Haymer denied early reports from the school's student newspaper, The Southern Digest, saying he had resigned. However, the newspaper later revised its report to say Haymer had been given the "option to resign."

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

Haymer was allegedly locked out of his office Thursday afternoon, which sparked dozens of band members, alumni, and other supporters to flood the school's Board of Supervisors meeting Friday to speak up for the band's leader.

"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.

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 in March alleging he accepted kickbacks to schedule band performances, but he has since denied those claims. A series of emails released to the media by Southern University late Friday shows where Haymer allegedly requested upwards of $10,000 while negotiating appearances for the band during the 2018 Mardi Gras season and at other events.

RELATED: Emails indicate SU band director may have accepted personal payments for performances

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.

Haymer released the letter below following his termination from the university.

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