A temporary shakeup of the Southern athletic department became official Friday, though the cause of it remained unclear.
The Southern Board of Supervisors approved the university’s plan to reassign Athletic Director William Broussard to the Southern System Presidents Office for four months beginning April 1. It also approved men’s basketball coach Roman Banks taking over Broussard’s duties in the interim.
No one from the university offered any explanation for the highly unusual move, and Broussard indicated that his absence from the athletic director’s office might exceed the presumed end date of Aug. 1.
Broussard was asked in a telephone interview with The Advocate on Friday whether he expected to be athletic director Aug. 1. He replied, “I start in the president’s office April 1. I’m taking it one day at a time.”
In his first public comments since the plan was revealed Thursday, Broussard, 36, said he sees his new role as a fundraiser as an “opportunity” to further his career. When asked whether he would be job-hunting during the reassignment, he said he hasn’t “aggressively done that to this point.”
“If an opportunity comes across my desk, I would explore it,” he said, “but I’m not looking to jump ship next week.”
Broussard said his new role came about over the course of the past few weeks in conversations with Southern Systems Interim President Ronald Mason Jr. and SUBR Chancellor Flandus McClinton.
“Some options were laid out for me,” Broussard said. He added that he responded by broaching the fundraising option with Mason.
“I cut my teeth as a fundraiser, so this is an opportunity to get back to my roots,” said Broussard, who was a fundraiser at Northwestern State (his alma mater) before coming to Southern. “Given my background in fundraising, I thought it was a good fit. It’s an opportunity to continue to do something with the university and an opportunity to work alongside Dr. Mason while he’s still here.”
Mason and McClinton declined comment after the board meeting Friday morning.
As for the four-month tenure, Broussard said “that was the term they shared with me.” He added that being an athletic director “is not the end game for me.”
When asked whether he viewed the reassignment as a disciplinary action, he said the fact that the university didn’t terminate his contract demonstrated there was “no wrongdoing” on his part.
Broussard’s contract runs through June 30, 2017, and calls for an annual salary of $138,000.
Banks said in an afternoon news conference that his goal as interim athletic director is to continue “the good work” that Broussard had done in his three years.
“I really think Dr. Broussard was doing a good job,” Banks said. “He has a good knowledge of institutional control and a good knowledge of accountability. As we go forward, we’re going to continue going in the right direction.”
Banks, who will be paid an extra $2,000 per month while handling the AD duties, said he has not spoken with Broussard since being approached Wednesday about replacing him but hopes to do so “in the near future.”
Raymond Fondel, chairman of the board’s athletics committee, attended Banks’ news conference to show “his support for us,” but Fondel declined comment. Banks said he has not been told why the reassignment of Broussard took place.
Broussard said he thought Banks “will do an excellent job,” noting the two had worked together during the university’s ongoing revamping of its record-keeping system to try to get its NCAA postseason ban lifted.
The ban has been in place for a year and a half and is scheduled to run through Nov. 1. It is a result of Southern submitting unusable data on student-athletes’ academic progress rates.
The sanction stems from reporting that predates Broussard’s and Banks’ tenures. Banks, who was athletic director and head basketball coach at Southern-Shreveport early in his career, met with the athletic department staff shortly before his news conference.
“We had a conversation,” Banks said. “I told them we’re going to roll our sleeves up and continue the hard work of getting past this ban and returning Southern athletics to the forefront.”
“(Broussard) did a hell of a job under the circumstances,” baseball coach Roger Cador said. “The athletic director job at Southern is a tough job.”
Banks said director of institutional compliance Trayvean Scott will lead the certification of Jaguars athletes for the fall semester, which is due to the NCAA on Aug. 15.
At the board meeting, the Personnel Affairs Committee approved Banks’ appointment before even addressing Broussard’s situation. When Broussard’s status came up, the committee went into executive session for about 45 minutes. When it reconvened, it took less than a minute to send the reassignment on to the full board for approval, which came in a lump vote that covered each item on the agenda.
One of the other items that was approved was a raise for football coach Dawson Odums’ top two assistants — assistant head coaches and co-offensive coordinators Chennis Berry and Chad Germany. Berry, also offensive line coach, now will earn $73,330 annually, and Germany, who also is recruiting coordinator, will earn $60,500.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.