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Howard University Rescinds Sean Combs’ Honorary Doctorate: ‘No Longer Worthy’

Howard University is revoking the honorary doctorate it awarded Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2014 and returning his $1 million donation, saying its board of trustees made the unanimous decision Friday after Combs was captured on hotel surveillance video beating his former girlfriend Casandra “Cassie” Ventura.

The move also comes after Rolling Stone published a six-month investigation last week that includes new allegations Combs physically assaulted a woman outside her Howard dorm when he was a student there in the late Eighties. (Combs left the school after his sophomore year.)

Howard’s board of trustees voted on the revocation at its regularly scheduled meeting Friday, saying the esteemed, historically Black institution was rescinding all honors and privileges associated with the degree and scrubbing Combs’ name from all documents listing honorary degree recipients.

“Mr. Combs’ behavior as captured in a recently released video is so fundamentally incompatible with Howard University’s core values and beliefs that he is deemed no longer worthy to hold the institution’s highest honor,” a Howard spokesperson said in a statement posted on the school’s website. “The University is unwavering in its opposition to all acts of interpersonal violence.”

As part of the decision, administration officials are set to return Combs’ $1 million donation fulfilled last year, disband the scholarship program in his name, and terminate a 2023 pledge agreement with the Sean Combs Foundation involving the promise of another $1 million gift. Officials said the foundation had yet to make any payments on the pledge.

Representatives for Combs did not immediately reply to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment. The news comes in the wake of seven lawsuits filed against the disgraced media mogul with allegations of drugging, violence, sexual assault, and rape. Ventura filed the first lawsuit in November and reached a private settlement with Combs a day later.

Last month, CNN obtained and published video showing Combs shoving, kicking, stomping, and dragging Ventura in a hallway of the InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles in 2016.

Combs quickly took responsibility for the beating but portrayed it as an isolated incident. “It’s so difficult to reflect on the darkest times in your life, but sometimes you gotta do that,” Combs said in his apology posted online. “I was fucked up, I mean I hit rock bottom, and I make no excuses. My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video. I’m disgusted. I was disgusted then when I did it, and I’m disgusted now. I went and I sought out professional help. Had to go into therapy, go into rehab, had to ask God for his mercy and grace. I’m so sorry, but I’m committed to being a better man each and every day. I’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m truly sorry.”

Combs arrived at Howard in the fall of 1987 and became known for the massive parties he would promote. He also was known as volatile, some say. Speaking to Rolling Stone on the condition of anonymity due to fear of retribution, sources allege Combs turned up to the school’s historic Harriet Tubman Quadrangle dorm one evening and began screaming in a “belligerent” manner for his girlfriend to come outside. They say the young woman complied, and soon, other women in the dorm began running through the halls, knocking on doors in a panic. One former student who was there that night said the other women were sounding the alarm that Combs, known then by his nickname “Puff,” was attacking the young woman outside. “Puff is out here acting crazy. He’s beating her,” the panicked students were saying, according to the former student.

“He screamed and hollered and acted a stone fool until she came downstairs,” another Howard student who witnessed the alleged attack told Rolling Stone. She said Combs used what appeared to be a belt to strike the young woman “all over the place.” The witness said Combs appeared “super angry” and was “screaming at the top of his lungs.” She said he “whupped her butt — like really whupped her butt.” A third source also recalled the alleged assault to Rolling Stone before the account was published. A fourth former Howard student reached out after publication to recount more details of the alleged assault.


Combs’ lawyer did not specifically respond to the Howard allegations when approached for comment last week. He cited the ongoing criminal investigation that involved raids on Combs’ homes in California and Florida by federal authorities in March. A source previously confirmed to Rolling Stone that prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are investigating Combs for possible sex trafficking.

“Mr. Combs cannot comment on settled litigation, will not comment on pending litigation, and cannot address every allegation picked up by the press from any source, no matter how unreliable,” Comb’s lawyer, Jonathan Davis, said last week. “We are aware that the proper authorities are conducting a thorough investigation and therefore have confidence any important issues will be addressed in the proper forum, where the rules distinguish facts from fiction.”

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