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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Alabama State University is finding itself in very public turmoil following the decision by its Board Monday to attempt the removal of its new president. The Board succeeded in placing Dr. Joseph Silver on paid administrative leave pending further action.
Students at ASU gathered Tuesday inside President's Room in Council Hall where an administrative news conference was called to address the growing controversy. Students packed the room where they chanted and demanded answers on why Silver was placed on leave.
At noon, ASU Executive Vice President John Knight addressed the media about "unfounded allegations that's been launched against this university by Dr. Silver" calling them "some of the wildest allegations I have ever heard."
Knight said that in the two months Dr. Silver has been on the job, "At no time while [he] was here has he disclosed any wrongdoing to anybody," and Knight said all University contracts have gone through legal counsel at Silver's request.
Knight went on to accuse Silver of using the students of ASU and the University "to further his own personal goals."
Knight, whom Dr. Silver said he fired "with cause" Monday, now has control of day-to-day operations. When asked if Dr. Silver had relieved him, Knight denied any conversation took place. His statement immediately drew a large, negative response from the attending crowd.
Addressing allegations of a cover up, Knight said that if Dr. Silver has any evidence of wrongdoing, "he has an obligation..." to reveal that information to authorities, even saying the press should know about it.
Knight, who said the University's financial books were open and available for review, stood beside Dr. Freddie Gallot, Vice President of Business and Finance at ASU, who addressed the last three years of university audits. "I am not aware of any kind of illegalities...as it relates to finances," he said.
After asking for questions from the media, students began chanting "Bring Silver back" and "No Justice, No Peace" and "ASU, ASU, ASU".
The ASU Board of Trustees voted Monday night to place Silver on paid administrative leave. Silver, who only took the reins back in September, told WSFA 12 News that he has "stepped on some toes," though he would not go into details.
Knight confirmed in Tuesday's news conference that Dr. Silver no longer has access to his office due to his leave status. Asked several times, Knight would not confirm if the President's office door locks had been changed.
Silver told WSFA that he stumbled onto "something" and was told to back off. He said he's received emails and phone calls from individuals who were telling him he was, "raising too many questions, long established folk, be careful. Because they have long friendships, and they're going to try to bring you down. "
Silver would not delve further into the issue or address specifics right after the meeting. He did say "right is right", and he had to do what's right for ASU's students.