F. King Alexander is out as president of Oregon State University, and he is free to dish about his time running the show at LSU in Baton Rouge.
The results could be humbling for LSU, bad for Louisiana, and embarrassing for Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Board of Supervisors.
Alexander offered his first tidbit to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle is not a publication that most folks in Louisiana know about, but it is widely followed in higher education circles. LSU’s looking for a new president, and it would be hard to imagine qualified candidates reading Alexander’s account and rushing to sign up for the gig in Baton Rouge.
In Alexander’s telling, he was summoned to Juban’s restaurant by the board and told to fire his athletic director, Joe Alleva, and hire Scott Woodward, the Baton Rouge native serving in the same job at Texas A&M. One of the board members wrote Woodward’s starting salary on a cocktail napkin, Alexander told the Chronicle.
“They had already hired a guy I had never interviewed — a guy I had never met,” Alexander told The Chronicle. “They had already negotiated a salary.”
James M. Williams, chairman of the board at the time, acknowledged to The Chronicle that the board suggested Alexander ditch Alleva and hire Woodward, but denied that there was an ultimatum.
That’s all in the past.
But there is one detail in the Chronicle piece that raises questions about what’s going on today and why interim president Tom Galligan has been so lighthanded with discipline over the errors outlined in a jaw-dropping report from the law firm Husch Blackwell, which probed LSU’s handling of sexual harassment and assault cases.
The Chronicle reported that Alexander also revealed that “around this same time period … the board made another decision: Promote Verge Ausberry, a longtime athletics administrator, and double his salary.”
“I was told they would take care of Verge,” Alexander told the publication.
Soon after, Ausberry’s salary was doubled to $500,000.
But by that time, LSU admits it had been warned that Ausberry had made a grave error in his handling of allegations of domestic abuse from former LSU wide receiver Drake Davis. A year earlier, Ausberry had received a text from Davis admitting to the abuse but he not did report the matter.
LSU’s reaction was to keep the matter secret and double Ausberry’s salary.
The university guarded Ausberry’s secret until last month, when it released the Husch Blackwell report.
Only then did LSU act, and Galligan only handed Ausberry a 30-day suspension, which ends next week. The light punishment has drawn protests from students.
Was someone taking care of Verge in this case too? That’s a question the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children can ask Galligan, Woodward and the supervisors.