Oregon State takes revenge, dominates LSU in NCAA Regional rout

Oregon State coach Pat Casey argues a call as the Beavers face the LSU Tigers in the Corvallis Regional of the NCAA baseball tournament on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Sean Meagher/Staff

The day after news surfaced that former Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey visited LSU and was a candidate in the school’s search, sources told The Advocate on Thursday it’s unlikely he will become LSU’s next baseball coach. 

Casey, 62, won three national titles during a 24-year tenure at Oregon State, but he retired in 2018 with a complicated legacy after allowing star pitcher Luke Heimlich to remain on the roster.

LSU’s serious consideration of Casey as a candidate for the job raised concerns among many, especially those who advocate for survivors of sexual assault.

Heimlich pleaded guilty as a teenager to a felony charge of molesting a 6-year-old female family member in Washington, writing in court documents “I admit that I had sexual contact with my niece.” His criminal history became public in 2017 when The Oregonian reported on it, but Casey and then-president Ed Ray allowed Heimlich to return to the team for Oregon State’s national championship-winning season in 2018.

Heimlich told Sports Illustrated in 2018 he had not committed the crime to which he pleaded guilty, saying he believed the guilty plea and five-year sex offender registry stint was his “best chance at a normal life.”

LSU will continue its search for a coach to replace Paul Mainieri, who will retire at the end of the season, athletic department spokesman Cody Worsham said. LSU plays this weekend in the NCAA super regional at Tennessee.

On Wednesday, a source confirmed to The Advocate that Casey visited Baton Rouge and was one of the candidates on the school’s search list. Earlier that day, a report emerged calling Casey the leading candidate for the position. 

“Any reports about a leading candidate are incorrect,” Worsham told The Advocate. “The search is wide open. We’re going to hire the best candidate for LSU.”

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Worsham added: “No coach has been offered the job. The process is still open.”

Casey didn't respond Thursday to a request for comment.

Casey’s embrace of Heimlich left a stain on his legacy, said Brenda Tracy, an advocate for sexual assault survivors who has widely told her story of being gang-raped in 1998 by two OSU football players along with two others. LSU should have considered what message the consideration of Casey sent to survivors on campus, she said.

“LSU can do better if they want to,” Tracy said.

Morgan Lamandre, legal director for the Louisiana Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center, said LSU should commit to ensuring that whomever it hires fits into a larger vision of ensuring students are safe on campus. She said LSU has made progress under its new interim Title IX coordinator, but that students need to trust that LSU is trying to change its culture.

“I would like for LSU to make sure they are properly vetting potential hires for these prominent positions to make sure they align with their efforts to prevent sexual violence, take a stance against sexual violence and to support survivors,” she said.

LSU and OSU have a complicated shared history over how the universities have handled allegations of sexual assault on campus. 

OSU hired LSU’s former president, F. King Alexander, last year. But Alexander was forced to resign several months later amid outcry over LSU’s Husch Blackwell report, which detailed widespread failures over how LSU officials handled allegations of sexual assault largely under Alexander’s tenure. OSU’s Board of Trustees weighed several types of discipline for Alexander before he resigned.

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com