Southern athletic director William Broussard is being reassigned to the SU System Office effective April Fool’s Day.
The assignment is only for four months. Then, according to the university, he is expected to return to his desk at the F.G. Clark Activity Center on Aug. 1 and resume command of the athletic department.
What are we to assume Broussard will be doing during these four months? Fundraising? A sabbatical? He often teaches a class at Southern — perhaps this is so he can complete some critical academic research?
The university isn’t saying. It said Thursday this is a personnel matter and there will be no further comment.
Oh, really? That simply won’t do. This is the athletic director at a public university, whose athletic department subsists largely on public funding, and he’s been removed — temporarily, in theory — from his duties without a reason given.
But that was the sandbag levee Southern threw together Thursday, so we must deal with the current circumstances for the moment. Circumstances that have left scant answers and many questions, a spring surprise in which speculation now blooms unchecked.
Very well. Speculate we shall.
This looks like a disciplinary action. This looks like a move designed to make Broussard stand in a corner until he comes up for air and says, “I’ve taken a job elsewhere.”
OK, then, why? What did Broussard do, or what didn’t he do?
If you were flying over the Southern campus in a plane about to land at Baton Rouge Metro Airport, this is what you would see Broussard has been doing:
He has dealt for virtually his entire tenure with an NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) conflagration that was dumped in his lap — a fire that unfortunately has burned through a couple of seasons now of Southern teams being denied postseason appearances because of incompetent record keeping issues. It’s an embarrassing issue that he didn’t create but inherited.
He’s hired a winning football coach in Dawson Odums. He’s somehow retained two successful basketball coaches: Roman Banks (who takes over as interim AD) and Sandy Pugh, despite said APR issues and penalties. He’s kept the athletic department from floundering in debt despite marrow deep state budget cuts to higher education.
Maybe some in the SU administration and/or Board of Supervisors aren’t happy with the lack of progress on the APR front. That’s at least plausible. It’s an embarrassment to the entire university. If you told me Broussard was being made the scapegoat, it might be unfair, but it is often the way business is done when unseemly crises crop up.
But Broussard has dealt with it, and come Aug. 15 he’s supposed to turn in fall certification information that would hopefully get the NCAA to lift SU’s APR postseason ban.
Is Banks now going to become the point guard (pun intended) on the APR work that still has to be done? Is Broussard going to continue to work at the issue though he has been “temporarily” deposed? What would you do in such circumstances?
Either Broussard has done the job or he has not. Either he’s worthy of the three-year contract extension he was awarded 11 months ago or he needs to go.
But this limbo, this no man’s land Broussard has been exiled to, furthers no worthwhile objectives other than to make him want to voluntarily quit the job. Whose purposes that serves no one is saying. It’s a personnel matter, remember?
Again, we are left to speculate. And speculation suggest this is more a personal issue than a personnel issue.
Meanwhile, a great and beloved university suffers even more.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.