Even after LSU named William Tate IV its next president, University of South Carolina leaders were trying to convince him to stay — but Tate told LSU leadership that he still fully intends to come to Baton Rouge.

Tate, currently South Carolina's provost, is expected to start at LSU in early July. But over the weekend, South Carolina President Bob Caslen ignited a firestorm of criticism over plagiarism allegations and other mistakes in his commencement address, leading some to try to hatch a plan to make Tate his replacement, according to the Post and Courier.

"Some university leaders are discussing efforts to have Tate stay in Columbia and take over for Caslen, which was the ultimate plan when he was hired as the school’s academic chief in 2020," the Post and Courier reports. "Tate was a finalist for the USC president job in 2019."

Caslen offered to resign from his presidential post and admitted that he lifted parts of his commencement address from a retired U.S. Navy admiral's speech to University of Texas graduates in 2014. He also congratulated Gamecock graduates over the weekend as “the newest alumni from the University of California.”

But LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Dampf said he spoke with Tate at length Tuesday afternoon, and Dampf said the incoming president told him "he is 100% committed to LSU."

"(Tate) went through the LSU process," Dampf said in an interview with The Advocate | Times-Picayune. "He knows he was our first choice. He's flattered by the attention from South Carolina. But he absolutely is going to wear Purple and Gold in the fall. He's going to be an LSU Tiger. He's excited about it. He's coming to Baton Rouge."

The chairman of the University of South Carolina's board declined to accept Caslen's resignation, according to the Post and Courier. Caslen also sent an apology email across campus.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

Caslen helped pave the way for Tate to receive the LSU job, according to Tate's interview for the presidential job last week. Caslen is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former superintendent of West Point Military Academy. When he and Tate visited Baton Rouge last fall for the LSU-South Carolina football matchup, Tate said they dined at the governor's mansion so that Caslen could spend time with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards — a fellow West Point graduate.

Dampf said he was also there for the meal, and sat next to Tate. Months later, Tate said he heard from the search firm looking for LSU presidential candidates.

Tate will be the first Black president in LSU's history, and the first Black president among all Southeastern Conference universities. 

Dampf said in a statement Monday that Tate had formally accepted the LSU job and that the board was confident in Tate's ability to lead LSU through its recent challenges.

"In short, he is the perfect person to lead LSU into the future," Dampf said.


Investigative reporting is more essential than ever, which is why we’ve established the Louisiana Investigative Journalism Fund, a non-profit supported by our readers.

To learn more, please click here.