LSU students demand stiffer punishment for athletic execs who sat on sexual misconduct allegations

LSU students protest in front of the Football Operations Center in -- demanding stiffer punishment for athletic executives who sat on sexual misconduct allegations. (Photo by JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)

LSU’s suspension of two athletic department employees who sat on sexual misconduct and domestic violence allegations against LSU athletes prompted a campus protest Monday led by Tigers Against Sexual Assault, a student-run organization focused on sexual assault education.

Referring to Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry and Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar, who were suspended 30 and 21 days respectively, a crowd of about 20 student protesters who gathered outside the campus’ Football Operation Center Monday chanted, “Get some nerve! Fire Verge!” and “Hey hey, ho ho! Verge and Miriam got to go!” 

Angelina Cantelli, co-president of Tigers Against Sexual Assault, said university officials profess “to care about culture change, but they’re not willing to take real action.”

“If they’re not going to prove to employees that there’s really a zero tolerance policy when it comes to covering up sexual assault, then nothing’s ever really going to change,” she said. “If you’re not going to set a standard and set an example out of people, then what’s going to stop another employee from doing the same thing?”

Former LSU football player Drake Davis sent Ausberry a text message confessing that he had hit his girlfriend, and Ausberry did not report the incident to law enforcement or LSU’s Title IX office, as he is legally required to do. Segar didn’t promptly report sexual assault allegations made agaisnt former star running back Derrius Guice.

Interim LSU president Tom Galligan told the LSU’s Board of Supervisors Friday that he’d suspended Ausberry and Segar The two will also be required to participate in extra training related to sexual misconduct prevention and reporting.

LSU Student Government President Stone Cox, who is the student representative on the board, said at Friday’s meeting that he didn’t think the student body would be satisfied with month-long suspensions for Ausberry and Segar. He said many students on campus thought the punishment should be more severe.  

USA Today first reported the athletic department mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against top student-athletes in November.  Cantelli said since then, Tigers Against Sexual Assault has “shifted to be this social justice organization demanding that LSU take these things seriously and take responsibility for where they failed.”

Friday, LSU released a report conducted by the law firm Husch Blackwell which concluded that the university hasn’t spent enough money or made enough of an effort to combat sexual misconduct and violence on its Baton Rouge campus. 

Ernie Ballard, a spokesman for LSU, said the university supports its students and their right to speak freely and “look forward to continuing the dialogue with them as we work to implement Husch Blackwell’s recommendations.”

“This is a long and difficult process, and we appreciate student input,” Ballard said.

Cantelli said members of Tigers Against Sexual Assault were scheduled to meet with Galligan Monday afternoon, and “depending on how that conversation goes” could organize another protest next week in front of the LSU Athletics Administration Building.