For an LSU scandal on his watch, F. King Alexander is out at Oregon State

Alexander said he’s ‘sorry to survivors of sexual assault and misconduct’

F. King Alexander, president at Oregon State University, was put on probation Wednesday by the university's board of trustees in response to a sexual misconduct scandal that occurred at LSU while Alexander was president. ("F. King Alexander" by Oregon State University is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Oregon State University President F. King Alexander became the latest casualty of a sexual misconduct scandal that happened on his watch at LSU when he submitted his resignation to the Oregon State University Board of Trustees Sunday. A 150-page investigative report released March 5 found that LSU hadn’t and hasn’t spent enough money or made enough of an effort to combat sexual misconduct and violence on its campus in Baton Rouge, despite being warned several times over the years that more resources were needed.

Alexander said in a statement to OSU’s board that he’s “sorry to any of the survivors of sexual assault and misconduct if this is brought brought back any pain.”

“I offer my resignation to Oregon State University to allow us to move on,” he said. “Students have and always will be my top priority, their social and economic well being is why many of us have committed a lifetime to public higher education.”

Alexander said he pledges to continue his “commitment to the next generation of students and their ability to make society a much much better place.”

At a Wednesday, March 17 meeting, the OSU board had put Alexander on probation and called for an investigation of its own. Afterward, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released a statement that said if the board’s review “confirms that President Alexander did not uphold his ethical and legal responsibilities to protect the safety of the students at LSU,” she expected OSU’s board to “take decisive action to remove him.”

“When we adjourned last week, we believed it was possible for President Alexander to repair the broken confidence and trust in his ability to lead OSU,” Rani Borkar, the chair of the OSU Board of Trustees, said in a Tuesday morning meeting that was live streamed. “After listening to and hearing important input from diverse members of our community, we now know that rebuilding that trust is no longer possible.” Borkar said that broken trust was expressed by “an outpouring of thoughtful statements from students, alumni, and survivors of sexual assault.”

Alexander, who was LSU president from 2013 to 2019, joins former LSU football Coach Les Miles and University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long as those who’ve lost their positions since the Husch Blackwell law firm submitted its report to the LSU Board of Supervisors. Miles was coaching football at the University of Kansas. After he was let go, the university fired Long for having hired him. To the consternation of student activists and some women lawmakers in the Louisiana Legislature, LSU hasn’t fired anyone.

Alexander knew about Miles’ alleged sexual misconduct at LSU, but when he spoke to the Oregon State board last week, he put the blame on the LSU board. Alexander said the board had already decided before he arrived on campus that the allegations that Miles had behaved inappropriately with young women working in the athletics department didn’t warrant his termination. Alexander also told the OSU trustees that he was waiting for Husch Blackwell to give him an opportunity to tell his side of events but that the firm never did.

On Monday, LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Robert S. Dampf said in a letter to Borkar, the chair of OSU’s board, that Alexander turned down that opportunity. “In actuality,” Dampf wrote, “Alexander was twice invited to be interviewed and instead communicated… that he would only accept questions in writing.”

Dampf sent his letter after Alexander had already resigned but before the news had become public.

LSU Athletics Director Scott Woodward, LSU Board chair Dampf and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards have all said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan did the right thing when he suspended Executive Deputy Athletics Director Verge Ausberry for four weeks and Senior Associate Athletics Director Miriam Segar for three weeks for sitting on allegations that student athletes had been violent with women.

Ausberry did nothing when football player Drake Davis sent him a text that he’d hit his girlfriend, and Segar didn’t promptly report sexual assault allegations made against former star running back Derrius Guice. Galligan suspended Ausberry for four weeks and Segar for three.

Derrius Guice #5 of the LSU Tigers reacts after a two-yard reception for touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the fourth quarter of the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2018, in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Woodward told “Talk Louisiana” host Jim Engster March 15  that he “totally agrees” with Galligan’s disciplinary response and that ““both Miriam and Verge have learned from this and they will be better employees.”  Edwards said at a March 18 press conference that he “won’t take issue” with Galligan’s decision. “Reasonable people can disagree and some think it should’ve been harsher, some think it should’ve been less harsh.”

In Dampf’s letter to Borkar, he implied that people in Louisiana have been demanding terminations of lower-level executives because the top-level people were no longer at LSU. “The fact that we can not ensure accountability for people who have left the university, and many have, has caused more local forces to demand the entirety of the justice fall onto just a few people. This form of scape-goating is not justice. There has to be a hierarchy of discipline that appropriately applies to perpetrators, administrators, and employees, based on the scale of their transgression and the scope of their responsibilities.”

In a March 10 committee hearing, the Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women and Children criticized LSU officials for not firing Ausberry and Segar.  “Does the punishment fit the crime?” asked Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge. “I think students are going to see this as a slap on the wrist.” 

The womens’ committee will hold a second hearing on sexual misconduct in the state’s higher education system March 26. When committee chairwoman state Sen. Regina Barrow, (D-Baton Rouge), announced the meeting Friday, she said the panel expects LSU officials and members of the board to be in attendance to tell the committee “what their plans are in implementing changes to ensure that this never happens again.”