BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Jaguar nation is reeling just hours after Southern University announced the termination of Nathan Haymer, director of the world-renowned Human Jukebox Marching Band.
However, the university remains silent on exactly how their decision was reached and why Haymer was let go. Haymer's attorney says the firing came after his client refused to resign at the university's request.
"There's always an uncertainty when there's a head change," said Jonathan Dearbone, former SU band member.
In a letter to the Jaguar community, President Ray Belton Tuesday tried to offer comfort, writing in part, "This departure is not an easy one as Mr. Haymer has been a great asset to our students, band program and overall community."
As rumors continue to run rampant, former band members like Dearbone say they are disappointed. "It's very difficult to hear this news and the thing that I would say to the students is keep your heads up," he said.
Signs that the relationship between the university and the band director had hit a sour note began last week when Haymer was allegedly locked out of his office, prompting students and alumni to flood Friday's board meeting in his defense.
A series of emails from the university surfaced later that same day, which appeared to show Haymer asking for thousands of dollars in what some have called questionable payments from event organizers for various performances, including one where he allegedly asked a promoter to cut a $3,000 check directly in his name for the band to appear in a parade.
In a statement Tuesday, Haymer defended his actions, in part saying, "I always took pride in being an ambassador for Southern University and at no time did I ever act in a nefarious manner by accepting kickbacks as falsely reported by the media."
"Do you stifle a man that has brought so much just because of something like this?" Dearbone questioned.
Dearbone admits reaction to the allegations are mixed among alumni, but he believes termination is not the answer. "If this was indeed a mistake, then a reprimand should have been handed down and let's move forward," he said. "An outright termination? I still think it was a little harsh."
While the university has been looking into the emails, as of Friday evening, a university spokeswoman told WAFB the school had not launched an investigation. Dearbone says it brings the whole process into question.
"These allegations that were brought forward I feel as though didn't quite get vetted," he added. "There was not enough evidence basically that was brought out to the public. It's a mystery, period."