Tiger Stadium on Louisiana State University's campus on June 14, 2018.

LSU President F. King Alexander on Friday disputed charges that that the school's new admission policy is watering down standards.

"We are not lowering standards," Alexander said. "We are just taking a better look at these kids, which they deserve because they worked on this for four years."

Under the new rules, students who previously would not have been accepted are getting a more detailed look from the admissions office, which has sparked controversy.

"We think these kids deserve a closer look now that we have the tools to do so," Alexander said during a nearly 90-minute, spirited meeting with the editorial board of The Advocate.

Under LSU's previous policy, students had to score at least 22 on the ACT, which is supposed to measure college readiness, to be considered for admission. 

Scores can range from 15 to 36 on the ACT.

Under the change, which was applied to the 2018 freshmen class, admission officials do a deeper dive for students who scored less than 22 on the exam, including high school grade point averages, classes taken and teacher recommendations.

Alexander said the LSU Faculty Senate signed off on similar reviews in 2006. "The problem we had for the past 12 years is that we did not have the tools to do what other schools do," Alexander said.

Richard Lipsey, who lives in Baton Rouge and is a member of the state Board of Regents, has blasted LSU's new policy as has a group called Put Louisiana First.

Lipsey said the change amounts to lowering hard-fought admission benchmarks after decades when Louisiana residents could enter LSU with just a high school diploma. He said the new rules will allow politically-connected officials to get students into LSU who otherwise would fail to qualify.

"He is opening the door for chaos," Lipsey said of Alexander earlier this month.

Others have questioned whether easing ACT rules penalizes students who met the standard, and if LSU has the manpower to adequately scrutinize thousands of applications that previously would have been rejected.

Jose Aviles, LSU's vice president for enrollment, said what school officials call a "holistic" approach to reviewing applications is nothing new, and used by top schools in other states.

"It has been around for more than 40 years, probably more than 50 years," Aviles said.

He said officials "fundamentally know so much more about what matters in student success" than when admission policies were put in place in the mid-1980's, including stricter ACT requirements.

Aviles said the applications of students who score less than 22 on the ACT undergo rigorous reviews, including high school transcripts and whether they pursued challenging courses, especially in fields where they plan to study.

For instance, those who plan to study engineering, he said, should have exhausted the highest  levels of math and science classes available at their high schools.

Aviles said that, even when accounting for differences in high school quality, a student's high school GPA is the key indicator of college success.

Alexander said the number of freshmen this year who scored 30 or higher on the ACT is up 42 percent in a class of 5,803.

But he also said it is a mistake to overemphasize ACT results in whether students are admitted.

Alexander said 60 percent of in-state applicants live in rural areas and often only took the ACT one time.

The president said the LSU Board of Supervisors has been "very supportive" of the admission changes.

A statement from the panel on the revamped policy is expected soon.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.