After LSU’s Verge Ausberry failed to report a football player who admitted hitting his girlfriend, the school’s acting president sent him off for a monthlong timeout. The suspension cost Ausberry one-twelfth of his 2021 salary, but he is probably not sweating much because a couple of years ago, the school doubled his pay.
Students protested that the punishment for the executive deputy athletic director, and others who mishandled domestic assault and sexual harassment cases, was too light. Legislators started holding hearings and offering bills to toughen standards.
Friday, the school responded to the discontent by piling on an additional penalty: They are banning Ausberry from football games for the 2021 season.
If that decision was designed to show the campus and the State Capitol that LSU gets it, it’s likely to have the opposite effect.
Ausberry in 2018 received a text from wide receiver Drake Davis in which Davis said he had a dispute with his a girlfriend and “I hit her In the stomach. (which is not good).”
But when Ausberry called Davis, the wide receiver said he had not hit his girlfriend and Ausberry failed to report the matter.
Davis went on to abuse his girlfriend for several more months, breaking into her apartment and nearly strangling her one night.
LSU knew of the incident and had been warned by East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III about widespread problems with reporting of assaults and harassment on campus.
But the next year, at the instigation of Board of Supervisors Chairman James Williams, Ausberry got a quarter-million-dollar raise, according to F. King Alexander, the former president.
“I was told they would take care of Verge,” Alexander told The Chronicle of Higher Education. Alexander left for Oregon State, but later resigned there — because, well, the board in Oregon is more concerned about LSU’s scandal than the board in Louisiana.
LSU is picking a new president this month, and Williams is chairman of the search committee.
In announcing that LSU was kicking Ausberry out of the skybox for the 2021 season, and making other moves in response to criticism that the school is not taking the problem seriously, the current chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Robert Dampf, said “these are difficult decisions, and the board has tried to work to get it right.”
But Friday’s announcement won’t satisfy anyone, nor should it.
Legislators are weighing a bill that would mandate firing anyone who fails to report a Title IX offense.
Maybe LSU needs better laws. It definitely needs better supervisors.