Our Views: Is LSU a football team or a university? Its leaders get it wrong, over and over again | Our Views
When Louisianans ask what’s going on with LSU, they often mean what’s happening with the football team.
But there is more to LSU than football. There is a sprawling archipelago of schools and programs and departments up the hill from Tiger Stadium. They are charged with teaching marketable skills to our young people and — more critically — protecting them as freshly minted adults away from home for the first time.
Rabalais: LSU’s Title IX failures are tragic — and it’s possible LSU still hasn’t done enough
The most shocking thing about the 150-page Husch Blackwell report released Friday is that the people who run LSU seem to also see the school chiefly as a football program, inconveniently appended to a university.
So when given the choice about whether to protect their students, young women who came to Baton Rouge from Mandeville or Minden or Manchac to study and compete and spread their wings, the grandees who run the place made the wrong decision, to protect the football team. Over and over again.
LSU’s sexual misconduct investigation finds ‘failure of leadership,’ dozens of problems
The football coach wanted the school to hire “attractive, blonde, fit” female students, and he was eventually barred from having one-on-one interactions with female employees and told to stop hiring them as babysitters. The athletic director, Joe Alleva, wanted to fire Les Miles, but he was rebuffed, presumably because Miles and his teams were winning. Miles was eventually fired after losing to Auburn in a game when LSU scored the winning touchdown, but started the play after time had expired.
Les Miles should have been fired at LSU for ‘inappropriate behavior,’ Joe Alleva said in 2013 email
The university employs an army of coaches and trainers and analysts to win football games. When the football coach said he needed more analysts to keep up with Nick Saban and Alabama, the school granted his request. But when it hired Jennie Stewart as Title IX coordinator in 2016, she warned that her staffing of one coordinator and one lead investigator was inadequate for a campus of 34,000 students. That plea was ignored.
LSU deserves credit for hiring Husch Blackwell and releasing the report. But if interim President Thomas Galligan is trying to show students that he intends to honor his commitment, his light punishment for executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar is unlikely to impress.
Husch Blackwell found Ausberry’s account of his handling of a sexual assault incident to be “not credible.”
Students are planning a protest Monday.
LSU has had great successes in recent years. The football team won a historic national championship just a year ago, and everyone cherishes those memories and can name all of the great coaches and athletes who made it possible.
But LSU also won a Nobel Prize recently. That was a greater triumph. Do we remember it as vividly as the football game against Clemson? If not, you can Google it.