| NEWS Les Miles harassment settlement uncovered during LSU's probe into their handling of sexual assault cases

planomateo

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His New Job on the Line, This President Unleashed a Scorched-Earth Critique of His Old Campus
By Jack Stripling
and Andy Thomason
MARCH 18, 2021
F. King Alexander

AARON M. SPRECHER, AP

Oregon State University’s president, F. King Alexander, at a football game while he was president of Louisiana State University
With his presidency imperiled at Oregon State University, F. King Alexander on Wednesday blasted his former employer, Louisiana State University, casting the institution he had once led as a hidebound organization where he felt powerless to fire the football coach without the approval of a board that regularly intervened in athletics.

Alexander’s unusually critical assessment of a former employer, where he was president from 2013 to 2019, comes in the wake of damning revelations about Louisiana State’s past handling of sexual-harassment and sexual-assault cases, including allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against Les Miles, who was head football coach during Alexander’s tenure. (LSU fired Miles in 2016).
Oregon State’s Board of Trustees, questioning the conduct of Alexander at Louisiana State, voted on Wednesday to put him on probation as president through June 1. But not before Alexander, in a meeting of the trustees where his presidency appeared to be on the line, publicly slammed Louisiana State, suggesting that some of the most disparaging stereotypes that often get attached to the big-time, Southern football schools are, in LSU’s case, all too accurate.

Ernie Ballard III, a spokesman for Louisiana State, declined to respond directly to Alexander’s critiques.
“We are not going to comment on President Alexander’s remarks,” Ballard wrote in an email, “nor are we going to let them divert our attention from our top priority of making LSU a safe and welcoming community for all students.”

Here are a few of the most damaging claims Alexander leveled at Louisiana State:

The governing board dominated athletics issues.

Alexander portrayed LSU’s Board of Supervisors as deeply involved in major athletics decisions, suggesting that Louisiana State’s president can only recommend whether to fire a football coach.

“The board has to make the ultimate decision on an issue of this magnitude,” Alexander said.
Following an investigation into Miles’s alleged misconduct, the board had decided, two months prior to Alexander’s arrival at LSU, to retain Miles as football coach, Alexander said. The board, Alexander said, “explained it to me in my first week of walking in there.”

Given the timing, Alexander said, “It would have been very difficult to override the board, who has already heard from their investigation.”

An outside investigation, described in a law firm’s 2013 report that was recently made public by USA Today, recounted allegations that Miles had, among other transgressions, kissed a student and suggested they go to a hotel. Taylor Porter, the law firm, did not find that Miles had a sexual relationship with any of the women who complained, but the investigation concluded his behavior was inappropriate. Miles has denied kissing the student. This month, in the wake of the allegations being made public, Miles “mutually agreed to part ways” with the University of Kansas, where he was coach.

Practically speaking, firing a football coach in a Power Five conference isn’t going to happen without board consultation. But Alexander’s suggestion that, at LSU, the final decision over a coach’s employment rests with the board suggests a power dynamic likely to trouble governance experts.

“Unlike here,” Alexander said of Oregon State, “there is a great deal of board intervention into athletics.”

Miles was not a good “university citizen.”

When criticizing football coaches, college presidents tend to confine their remarks to wins and losses or off-field scandals. Alexander’s criticisms of Miles cut deeper, blasting the former coach as “not a good university citizen.”

Specifically, Alexander criticized Miles for refusing to send football players to help first-year students move into dormitories, something that all other LSU coaches directed their players to do.

“I had to make him send them,” Alexander said.
In another example, Alexander said, Miles objected to the university’s constructing a foundation building near athletics practice fields.

“Les Miles went nuts and said, ‘How can you dare build this on my side of campus?’” Alexander said.

There were no other sexual-misconduct allegations made against Miles during Alexander’s tenure, Alexander said, but Miles had another problem: “He believed he was bigger than life.”

Some Title IX cases were “siloed” in athletics.

At issue for Louisiana State is whether allegations of sexual misconduct or violence were swept under the rug by the athletics department. Asked about this, Alexander said, the vast majority of cases were either reported to the Title IX office or campus police. “A couple of them,” he said, “for some reason were handled differently by athletics.”

Alexander estimated that “they were siloing maybe 6 or 7 percent — and that’s just a guess.”

“We had to further clarify in athletics over and over again,” Alexander said, “that you need to report to the Title IX office and not to anybody in athletics.”

Financially starved, LSU relied on donors and athletics for new revenue.

Louisiana’s disinvestment in public higher ed has been well-chronicled. But Alexander portrayed administrators as desperate for new revenue from donors and the athletic department while the campus fought with the Legislature for scraps.

Alexander told trustees that while the university was struggling financially, he “talked athletics into” giving $8 million to the general university fund one year because the department ran a surplus. (That practice has since ended.)

The president added that he had “no doubt” that some of the money from athletics allowed the university to start the Title IX office and fund it, as well as “eke out” a small salary increase for faculty and staff one year.

“That was the only new money that we actually saw on the campus side of things,” Alexander said. He added: “The only new money that we could actually acquire was either from donors … or whatever athletics was able to give us.”

He faced blowback for suspending activities in the Greek system.

In 2017, Alexander ordered the immediate suspension of all fraternity and sorority activities at LSU after the hazing death of a student. On Wednesday, he said that decision proved costly behind the scenes.

Alexander referenced “the pressure I caught from shutting down the Greek system for a year.” The president said the step cost the university “millions in donations” from alumni of the Greek system.

“They thought we overstepped our bounds, and [that] we took drastic action when we shouldn’t have.”

Alexander also referenced hearing about “rampant problems” inside fraternities during his tenure at LSU, including “drugging drinks” and other things “flying under the radar.” (He said the administration was able to substantiate some of the claims but not others.)

Those things and other “rumors,” Alexander said, were enough to — when paired with the student’s hazing death — justify the temporary shuttering of the Greek system. It was, he said, a “drastic action that received national headlines that we didn’t want to have to take.”

An Unusual Critique

Uncommon in both its candor and abrasiveness, Alexander’s scorched-earth assessment of Louisiana State’s athletics culture, governance challenges, and budget constraints could have lasting implications. At a time when LSU is in the midst of a presidential search, the university’s immediate past leader has given an unexpected public exit interview that points toward deeply rooted dysfunction that could test even the steeliest president’s resolve.

The criticisms could well be seen as an effort by Alexander, facing his own reckoning at Oregon State, to shift blame toward institutional intransigence in Louisiana. There is something fundamentally different and potentially lasting, though, about what Alexander said on Wednesday.

Well into a career, it is not uncommon for a college leader, in a public forum, to vaguely criticize some unnamed past institution — Oh, I could tell you some stories. Usually, though, they don’t name names.
College presidents seldom speak in detail about board members controlling a football coach’s fate, even though board influence is often assumed to be a factor. Alexander’s decision to describe bluntly the LSU board’s approach has invited scrutiny from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the university’s regional accrediting agency.

“We will investigate this,” Belle S. Wheelan, president of the agency, said in an email to The Chronicle on Thursday.

Under the agency’s standards, specifically 5.2.b, a college’s chief executive “has ultimate responsibility for and exercises appropriate control over the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program.”

Alexander’s comments, once brought to the agency’s attention, automatically triggered an investigation under the agency’s “unsolicited information” policy, Wheelan said. In response, Louisiana State will have to document that the university is in compliance with accreditation standards. Theoretically, the university cold be sanctioned if it cannot demonstrate compliance.
Colleges require regional accreditation to receive federal financial aid, so anything that might jeopardize it is potentially serious.

Update (March 18, 2021, 5:55 p.m.): This article has been updated with the news that Alexander's remarks triggered an investigation by LSU's regional accrediting agency.
 

planomateo

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BamaFan334

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Same ole shit, different day. A few folks lose their job, but no real change is gonna happen. These money making programs won't be punished for these crimes against their students and society. A slap on the wrist every damn time. Baylor and Penn State slapped on the wrist and right back to their old status a year or so after they were punished. About tired of hearing about it because it's wash, rinse, and repeat. College football player commits crimes against fellow student, coach hides it, university doesn't report, everything comes out later, school releases statement condemning actions, someone gets fired, few years later it happens again. And these are just the ones caught.
 

planomateo

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StriplingLSU-032521-full-bleed.jpg


In a Back Room, LSU’s Board Pushed for a Sports Shake-Up

The untold story of an athletic director’s dismissal suggests micromanagement by an athletics-obsessed board.

By Jack Stripling
MARCH 25, 2021

On a Monday night at Juban’s, a creole restaurant in Baton Rouge, La., the particulars were written on a cocktail napkin and handed to F. King Alexander, who was then president of Louisiana State University, he recalls.

Alexander had been summoned to the restaurant by members of the university’s Board of Supervisors, who laid out their instructions: Fire Joe Alleva as athletics director and replace him with Scott Woodward, a Baton Rouge native and LSU alum who was, at the time, athletics director at Texas A&M University. One of the board members wrote Woodward’s starting salary on a cocktail napkin, Alexander said.

Alexander told the story of the meeting, which has not previously been reported, in a series of interviews with The Chronicle this week. Related events were corroborated by another source with knowledge of them, who asked not to be identified for fear of professional repercussions. Two members of Alexander’s family — his wife and his father — confirmed that Alexander had told them of the meeting in the restaurant at the time.

F. King Alexander


James M. Williams, who was chairman of the board at the time and attended the dinner, acknowledged that the board suggested that night that LSU replace Alleva with Woodward. But Williams strongly disputed the idea that Alexander had been given an ultimatum.

“King Alexander was never told, ‘You must do this or else; do this or you’re fired; do this or it’s not going to be good for you,’” Williams said in an interview on Thursday.

The meeting between Alexander and the board members happened in April 2019, during a particularly tense period for LSU athletics. Alleva had recently suspended Will Wade, the Tigers’ head men’s basketball coach, who had been caught on a wiretap connected to an FBI investigation of corruption in college athletics recruitment. The suspension, which had kept Wade out of postseason games, prompted a backlash from LSU fans, and the board members appeared to seize on Alleva’s political vulnerability as an opportunity to install their own pick atop LSU’s vast athletics enterprise.

(Wade has not been charged with a crime. His program is reportedly under NCAA investigation related to his comments on the wiretap).

The LSU board’s direct interference in the firing and hiring of an athletics director, as Alexander describes it, could run afoul of accreditation standards that demand presidents retain control of such decisions, an area that is already the subject of investigation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, LSU’s regional accrediting agency. (Regional accreditation is necessary for colleges to receive federal financial aid).
If this story helps presidents tell board members where they’re overreaching, that’s why I’m talking.
New details about the athletics-director change at LSU come as Alexander, who was forced out this week as president of Oregon State University, fights to salvage his reputation and to dispute allegations that he was an active player in a culture of cover-ups tied to sexual misconduct at LSU. Recent revelations, contained in now-public investigative reports, have described how, during Alexander’s tenure, LSU mishandled claims of sexual misconduct and long retained Les Miles, the former head football coach, despite charges that he had behaved inappropriately with a student. (Miles has denied that he kissed a student, as has been alleged).

The decision to retain Miles was made by the board, before Alexander arrived as president, in 2013, he has said. In hindsight, it was an early signal of the board’s deep involvement in high-profile sports.
Details about LSU’s mishandling of sexual assault came to light recently, when Alexander had been at Oregon State for only about nine months, and he quickly lost the trust of the board, the faculty, and the state’s Democratic governor. In what proved to be a futile fight to keep his job, Alexander described himself in a public meeting as having been powerless at LSU to challenge an athletics-obsessed board that controlled decisions that should have rested with the president. The Alleva firing adds new specificity to those broad charges.

The Dinner

When Alexander arrived at Juban’s that evening, he recalls, four board members were seated at a roundish table in a private room. He recalls specifically that Williams, then the chairman, and Mary Leach Werner, another member, were present. (Alexander said he is less certain now whom the two other board members were, and Williams said he isn’t entirely sure, either).

The board members told Alexander that they had already hired Woodward, who was then at Texas A&M, Alexander said.

“They had already hired a guy I had never interviewed — a guy I had never met,” Alexander said. “They had already negotiated a salary.”

“He wrote down the numbers on a cocktail napkin,” Alexander said of Williams, who was sitting next to him, “and said ‘This is what we’re paying our new athletic director.’”

lsuwoodward0291.042419 bf


Alexander says he thought to himself, “Does Dan know about this?” referencing LSU’s then-executive vice president forfinance, Dan Layzell. “I was shell shocked. This money is like monopoly money to them.”

(Woodward, who did not respond on Thursday to a request for comment, signed a six-year, $7.95 million contract with LSU, The Advocate reported at the time).

The board members, Alexander said, directed him to fire Alleva the next day, refusing to allow the AD to serve through the end of his contract, in June, as Alexander suggested.

“They said ‘No, you have to fire him tomorrow,” Alexander said.

Williams offered a less inflammatory characterization of the meeting. There was great fan unrest about Alleva, who had not, during his tenure, overseen a national-championship football team, and had suspended a basketball coach at a critical moment in the season. Board members were frustrated, Williams said, that Alexander seemed to lack “situational awareness” about the need to change athletic directors. The meeting was designed to give Alexander an “opportunity” to change things, Williams said.

“We had several discussions with King about where things were heading, and he just didn’t seem situationally aware,” Williams said. “Nero was on the fiddle, and Rome was burning.

“Board members,” Williams said, “had had discussions about: Hey, this is something that is perhaps not going as it should be, and this is within your purview. Do you have this under control?”
The former board chair acknowledged that, before the dinner, he had personally discussed with Woodward his potential interest in the athletic-director job, and that other board members had as well. But Williams said he was “fuzzy” on whether, at that point, he and Woodward had met in person.

Williams, James LSU3706.jpg


Williams said he had not negotiated a salary with the board’s suggested candidate, and he did not specifically remember writing a figure on a cocktail napkin.

“Could there have been a discussion,” Williams asked rhetorically, “about what it would take to bring Scott Woodward to LSU — what I think a range would be that he would probably have to offer to get it done? I can’t say that that would have been impossible. But I don’t know about sliding some number on a table on a napkin, saying, ‘Here it is.’ That bills this dramatic meeting that didn’t exist.”
During the meeting, Williams said, the board members had merely cast Woodward as a target of opportunity. In so doing, Williams said, he did not think the board had undermined the president’s authority over athletics in violation of accreditation standards.

“I can’t see how SACS would say trustees at a university have to keep their eyes closed and not be on the lookout for talent,” said Williams, who is a lawyer. “The key to me is: Is anybody forcing or directing or mandating — and that’s just not accurate.”

Werner, the other board member Alexander recalls being at Juban’s, could not be immediately reached for comment.

‘Take Care of Verge’

Whatever took place at the restaurant, Alexander was sufficiently disturbed by it that he called his father, Kern Alexander. Over the course of a long career in academic administration, Kern Alexander has served as president of Western Kentucky University and Murray State University, in Kentucky, where King Alexander succeeded him as president.
“It was one of the worst things I’ve seen in higher-education administration,” Kern Alexander, recalling the incident, said in an interview on Thursday. “I’ve taught education and been in educational administration for a long time, but I had not seen the kind of blatant control that they exercised.
We had several discussions with King about where things were heading, and he just didn’t seem situationally aware.
“It just weighed on him,” Kern Alexander, who is now a professor of education policy, organization, and leadershipat the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said of his son. “He talked to me about it several times. He frankly didn’t know what to do. Of course he didn’t have another job, and it was mandated by them that he had to do it. He didn’t have any choice, is what it amounted to.”

By firing Alleva and hiring Woodward, rather than quitting or sounding an alarm, Alexander opened himself up to criticism that he lacked the courage and conviction the moment demanded. For him, though, the athletic-director debacle was the last straw.

“That’s when I knew I needed to get out of there,” Alexander says. “That’s when I started looking. The board wanted to run everything.”

Around this same time period of the dinner meeting, King Alexander said, the board made another decision: Promote Verge Ausberry, a longtime athletics administrator, and double his salary.

“I was told they would take care of Verge,” Alexander said.

Effective May 6, 2019, less than three weeks after Woodward was named athletic director, Ausberry’s salary increased to $500,000 from $250,000, records provided by the university show. He was promoted in July of that year to executive deputy director of athletics and executive director of external relations, according to his online biography.
Ausberry did not respond to an email on Thursday detailing the allegations, although it is unclear whether he is receiving email at his university address.

LSU recently suspended Ausberry without pay for 30 days, following a report by Husch Blackwell, a law firm that investigated LSU’s handling of sexual-misconduct and domestic-violence cases. The investigation found that Ausberry had mishandled a domestic-violence accusation involving a football player.

Asked about Ausberry’s pay increase, Williams, the former board chairman, said that it happened in the context of a larger discussion about pay equity across race and gender at LSU. (Ausberry, who is Black, worked his way up from an internship in the compliance office over about two decades.)

“That wasn’t a board directive,” Williams said of Ausberry’s raise. “The board does not get involved in directing people to be paid a particular salary.”

‘Monday-Night Massacre’

The day after the meeting at Juban’s, Alexander met with Alleva, the athletics director, at a lounge at the University Club, where the Tigers’ golf teams have their practice facility, to deliver the news. Thomas V. Skinner, who was then general counsel, accompanied Alexander. (Skinner declined to discuss the meeting.)

“I said, ‘Joe, I’m so sorry,’” Alexander recalls, “‘But the board leadership has hired a new athletics director, and I’ve got to fire you.’ It was the three of us in a room. He said, ‘It’s not your fault.’ He said, ‘I know these guys have been after me.’

“It was kind of a Monday-night massacre. I said, ‘We’ve hired a new AD, and it’s a good ol’ boy from Baton Rouge.’”

Efforts to reach Alleva through multiple listed phone numbers were unsuccessful.

Alexander’s allegations will surely turn up the heat in a simmering feud between him and his former employer LSU. His vague public criticisms of the university, now even more detailed, had already spawned a backlash. On Sunday, The Advocate published an editorial headlined, “F. King Alexander blames Louisiana hicks for his failures in LSU scandals.”

The next day, Robert S. Dampf, chairman of LSU’s board, wrote a letter to his Oregon State counterpart, blasting Alexander for his “arrogant and condescending comments about Louisiana’s culture, our state, and our university.”

Alexander said he was worried about telling his story publicly, fearing it could come off as petty and prompt a protracted back-and-forth with a university he has left behind. But the story is the truth, he said, and it has serious implications for public higher education in Louisiana and beyond.

“I want to help presidents who are dealing with this type of intrusion,” Alexander said. “I’m in this business to help students — not to promote football. If this story helps presidents tell board members where they’re overreaching, that’s why I’m talking.”

Not long before he was fired as athletics director, Alleva had lifted Wade’s suspension as head men’s basketball coach. But the controversy had taken a toll on Alleva, who was already crosswise with the Tiger faithful. During his 11-year tenure, Alleva, who came to LSU from Duke University and had no ties to Louisiana, LSU did not win a football national championship — the measure by which directors at top programs in the Southeastern Conference are often judged.

Alexander expressed no public compunction about Woodward’s hiring when he was president of LSU. In a press release, announcing Woodward’s hiring, Alexander said, “We are happy to welcome a fellow Tiger back home.”

Eight months later, Alexander was named Oregon State’s next president. As it turns out, his troubles were just beginning.
 

TerryP

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48,167
(Wade has not been charged with a crime. His program is reportedly under NCAA investigation related to his comments on the wiretap).
1) NCAA
2) It was reported this week the FBI is still in Baton Rouge investigating.
The LSU board’s direct interference in the firing and hiring of an athletics director, as Alexander describes it, could run afoul of accreditation standards that demand presidents retain control of such decisions, an area that is already the subject of investigation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, LSU’s regional accrediting agency. (Regional accreditation is necessary for colleges to receive federal financial aid).
3) Now SACS is on the scene with this story (yet another one we talked about here almost a year ago.)
4) OCR is already on the scene investigating their Title IV issues.

Four.
 

64Tide

Registered
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Weren’t the boogs under SACS investigation for precisely the same scenario? The board, B Louder and co, running the athletic business of the school. I remember some of maybe the less informed being concerned about the value of their *aU degree.
 

OldPlayer

Bama Club
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4,285
1) NCAA
2) It was reported this week the FBI is still in Baton Rouge investigating.

3) Now SACS is on the scene with this story (yet another one we talked about here almost a year ago.)
4) OCR is already on the scene investigating their Title IV issues.

Four.

That sounds ominous but the FBI has an office in Baton Rouge so they never leave. Another headline could be "The FBI has been investigating from the Baton Rouge field office for 10 years." (but not investigating this alleged crime for 10 years).
 

TerryP

Ivory Club
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48,167
That sounds ominous but the FBI has an office in Baton Rouge so they never leave. Another headline could be "The FBI has been investigating from the Baton Rouge field office for 10 years." (but not investigating this alleged crime for 10 years).
Specifically investigating Wade if that needed to be said more clearly. A specific task force.
 

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