Howard University Revokes Diddy’s Honorary Degree Amid Mounting Sex Assault Lawsuits, Allegations

Sean “Diddy” Combs delivers the commencement speech at Howard University’s 146th commencement exercises on May 10, 2014, in Washington, D.C. | Source: Allison Shelley / Getty

UPDATED: 9:00 a.m. ET, June 8

Originally published on May 22

Howard University has revoked the honorary degree it awarded Sean “Diddy” Combs amid mounting sexual assault lawsuits and allegations against the now-disgraced music mogul.

The historically Black college (HBCU) that Diddy attended in the late 1980s said on Friday that he was “no longer worthy” of having such an honor.

The Howard University Board of Trustees released the following statement:

“The Howard University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to accept the return by Mr. Sean Combs of the honorary degree conferred upon him in 2014. This acceptance revokes all honors and privileges associated with the degree. Accordingly, the Board has directed that his name be removed from all documents listing honorary degree recipients of Howard University.

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.

The University is unwavering in its opposition to all acts of interpersonal violence.

The Board has also directed the University administration to immediately take the following actions: terminate a 2016 gift agreement with Mr. Combs, disband the scholarship program in his name, return his $1 million contribution, and terminate a 2023 pledge agreement with the Sean Combs Foundation.

No payments toward the $1 million pledge have been due or made by the Sean Combs Foundation as of this date, therefore no funds are due to be returned under the 2023 pledge agreement.”

The revocation of the honorary degree came about a week after Rolling Stone reported that “several women” who identified themselves as Diddy’s former classmates at the HBCU remember him attacking a young female student identified as “a girlfriend” outside of an unspecified Howard University dormitory. Diddy, who dropped out in 1990 to pursue an entertainment career, was reportedly “belligerent” with his screaming for the young woman during the alleged incident.

Diddy ended up “beating” the female student, according to Rolling Stone’s report.

Days later, it was reported that Combs sold his majority stake in Revolt, the media company he founded in 2013.

Revolt now boasts that it is owned by employees, and remains Black-owned.

“REVOLT is honored and proud to announce that, in an unprecedented and historic move in the Black media space, our newly projected largest shareholder group are REVOLT’s current employees,” read a statement announcing Combs’ shares have been “fully redeemed and retired.” “Our mission to become the largest media company powered by creators and fueled by the culture continues.”

The New York Times reported that Detavio Samuels, Revolt’s CEO, says, “One-hundred percent of Sean Combs’s shares have been redeemed and retired,” Mr. Samuels said in the interview. “He is no longer chairman. He is no longer on the board. He has no shares, no equity in Revolt. We have completely separated and dissociated from each other.”

Original story:

With yet another sexual assault lawsuit being filed against embattled music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, it remained unclear whether and how he would be held accountable for both his alleged and confirmed actions.

Aside from the pending legal actions and their possible consequences, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he was contemplating revoking the key to the city presented to Diddy.

Doing so could lead to an avalanche of similar moves, as suggested by the growing calls for Howard University to revoke an honorary degree it bestowed upon Diddy a decade ago. But will Howard University actually revoke Diddy’s honorary degree?

Diddy’s NYC key to the city at risk

On Tuesday, Adams responded to a video Diddy posted on social media expressing contrition for his “behavior.” The video was posted in the days after CNN published exclusive hotel surveillance footage of Diddy violently attacking his former longtime girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016 – an attack that Diddy had previously vehemently denied and dismissed as a money grab despite swiftly settling Cassie’s lawsuit for $30 million.

In response, Adams suggested the wheels were already in motion to revoke the key to the city he presented Diddy just eight months ago.

“There’s a process. There’s a panel, they’re going to look over it, they’re going to make a recommendation to me and we’re going to take the next steps,” Adams told reporters. “My heart goes out to the young lady who was assaulted. All of us are disgusted at the video of seeing something of that magnitude. But we want to take the process. We’ve never removed the key from anyone before. We want to make sure we do it right because now we’re going to set precedence and we want to make sure we’re going to do it right. And I was very clear, we’re going to see what the next steps are and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”

Will Howard University revoke Diddy’s honorary degree?

If that happens, it could open the proverbial floodgates for other entities to take similar action against Diddy.

One of those entities is Howard University, the flagship historically Black college that Diddy attended for just two years before dropping out and going on to become one of the most successful moguls in the music industry and pop culture.

Despite Diddy, a business major, not graduating from college, Howard still presented him with an honorary doctorate of the humanities in 2014, when he was also selected to deliver the keynote address during the spring commencement ceremony.

“We are honored to have Mr. Combs serve as our speaker,” then-interim Howard President Wayne Frederick said at the time. “He sat in classrooms where our students sit, walked ‘The Yard,’ and like many students, his entrepreneurial spirit was sparked at Howard.”

Ten years later, though, that sentiment at Howard may be shifting and could result in the revocation of Diddy’s honorary degree – similar to how disgraced comedian Bill Cosby had dozens of his honorary degrees rescinded by colleges after more than 60 women accused him of sexual assault.

However, Howard is reportedly one of the universities that bestowed an honorary degree on Cosby and did not revoke the honor.

“Mr. Cosby is still an honorary degree holder at Howard University,” it said in 2018, according to Vulture.

Last year, Diddy donated $1 million to Howard University.

“As someone who attended Howard University and values the transformative experience of historically Black colleges, it remains crucial that we strive to protect and uphold their legacy,” Combs said in October.

A request from NewsOne for comment sent to Howard University was not immediately returned.

Calls grow to revoke Diddy’s honorary degree from Howard

A fledgling social media campaign is calling for Howard to revoke Diddy’s honorary degree. The calls were there following Cassie’s bombshell lawsuit in November and they’re recently been revived after the video footage of Diddy attacking her in 2016 emerged last week.

One account on X, formerly Twitter, called for not only Howard to revoke its honorary degree to Diddy but also for BET to formally rescind its lifetime achievement award from 2022.

“Let’s normal [sic] NOT giving abusive powerful men honors simply because of their money and fame,” the post said in part.

During Diddy’s acceptance speech for the lifetime achievement award, he notably thanked “Cassie for holding me down in the dark times.”

At the time it was announced that Diddy would be given an honorary doctorate, Howard University students – especially graduating seniors – did not welcome the decision.

“In the black community, he’s known to be arrogant, someone who talks down to others who are not on his level,” one graduating senior told Yahoo News at the time.

It was in that context that another senior told ABC News that she was “not necessarily sure that I’m too thrilled about him being our commencement speaker.”

However, Diddy’s commencement speech was greeted enthusiastically by Howard.

His alleged sexual abuse and documented physical abuse are likely not. To what extent, though, has yet to be revealed.

Source: NewsOne