4:12 PM PT -- Sources who were present at the Oscars tell TMZ, the 2 Academy officials who told Will Smith to leave were David Rubin, the President of the Academy, and Dawn Hudson, the CEO. We're told they were "furious" at Will, and there was plenty of "yelling" and "heated conversations" backstage with Will's reps after the incident. As one source put it, the Academy officials were "apoplectic." We're also told they told him to leave shortly after the slap.
Will Smith sticking around at the Oscars, after slapping Chris Rock, is NOT what the Academy wanted -- but he dug in his heels when they tried to give him the boot.
That's the new startling claim from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which fired off a letter Wednesday, announcing their Board of Governors has begun disciplinary proceedings on Will for violating their Standards of Conduct.
In the letter they write ... "Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently."
That's pretty shocking, especially since the speculation up to this point was that the Academy and the show producers allowed Will to stay until his Best Actor category was announced -- something for which they've been heavily criticized.
They go on to say this about the whole thing in terms of logistics ... "consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days' notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response."
The Board further explains that at their next meeting on April 18, they'll have a decision on his punishment -- which could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions permitted their bylaws.
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.
One final note from them on what Will did -- "Mr. Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event."