CORVALLIS, Oregon (WAFB) - Oregon State University has postponed its decision on the future of its president, former LSU president F. King Alexander. Instead, the board voted, by a vote of 12-2, to put him on probation through June 1, 2021.
The move came after a nearly six-hour meeting by the Oregon State University Board of Trustees Wednesday, including nearly two hours in a private executive session.
Following that executive session, board member Paul Kelly said the board does not believe it has enough information yet to make a “sound, well-informed judgment” about Alexander’s future.
During his probationary period, Alexander must develop an action plan to “rebuild trust and relationships” across Oregon State University, the board said. The board called the special meeting to decide whether Alexander should keep his job there, despite criticism of how sexual misconduct complaints were handled during his time as president of LSU.
As he fought to keep his job during the meeting, Alexander repeatedly slammed LSU as he described the many obstacles he said he faced during his time in Louisiana.
He characterized LSU as a seriously underfunded place where “athletics tried to run the university” and where certain segments of the Baton Rouge community were opposed to change.
“We were talking about closing the College of Engineering. That’s 1000 engineers a year. Because the types of fiscal legislation they were putting on the table in the legislature, meant that we would’ve had to close two academic colleges, just to cover that amount,” said King Alexander.
He also described former LSU Head Football Coach Les Miles as someone who believed he was “bigger than life” and a person who was “not a good university citizen.” He claims that attitude, and not just his performance as a coach, is what ultimately led him to fire Miles.
“And this gave us an opportunity, and the board came to me, and I said we’ve been waiting for this to happen. Now the board can come to a determination with me, this would have to be a me and the board decision because of the magnitude,” said King Alexander.
He said Miles demanded to dictate what happened on “his side of campus.”
Alexander told the board that the operations at Oregon State are vastly better from LSU, a place he described as being “behind the times.”
As an example, Alexander said when he suspended Greek activities at LSU for one year after multiple problems with fraternities including a hazing-related death and “drugging drinks,” the school lost “millions in donations from Greek alum” who thought he was being too harsh.
During Wednesday’s meeting, several Oregon students and faculty members urged the board to cut ties with Alexander.
The Oregon state meeting comes after a recent sweeping probe of LSU by private firm Husch Blackwell that focused on how LSU handled complaints of sexual misconduct, including some that happened during Alexander’s time at LSU.
In opening Wednesday’s meeting, Rani Borkar, the Chair of Oregon State’s Board of Trustees, said it was important that the university examine whether Alexander’s values and expectations are “consistent” with that of Oregon State University.
Alexander served as president of LSU from 2013 to 2019. He started his new $630,000 per year position at Oregon State in July 2020.
In calling the meeting, the board said it wanted to review Alexander’s “leadership at LSU over Title IX, his handling of sexual misconduct, and subsequent information regarding sexual misconduct that has been shared.”
Les Miles left his job as coach at the University of Kansas earlier this month because of issues raised during the same Husch Blackwell probe into LSU including its Title IX program.
The Title IX program is aimed at protecting people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Former LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva recommended firing Miles from LSU in 2013 because of the coach’s alleged inappropriate contact with female students, the Husch Blackwell investigation found.
Miles was accused of kissing an LSU student, sending text messages to female students, and taking some of them to his off-campus condo alone. He denied kissing the student and was not accused of any sexual relationships with any of them.
Alleva emailed top LSU officials in 2013, saying he specifically instructed Miles to “not text, call or be alone with any student workers and he obviously didn’t listen,” the investigation found. “I believe it is in the best interest in the long run to make a break,” Alleva said in the email.
At the Oregon State Board of Trustees meeting, Alexander said that weeks before he even started the gig as LSU president, he received a warning from former LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, about the allegations made against Miles having inappropriate contact with female LSU students.
“I believe Joe Alleva, who was the athletics director, was giving me a heads up. That if this guy (Miles) is basically on a watch suspension, and if he steps across the line again, he’s fully in favor of us removing him, and I believe that to be true. If he (Miles) were do to anything and violate anything that we knew of again, then I think we could, assuming that with my board leadership, that the board leadership would support the action that we could take,” said Alexander.
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Alleva said he believed the actions of Miles had put the university “at great risk,” the report says.
Despite that, Miles continued coaching for three additional years before being fired after a dismal 2-2 start of the 2016 football season, investigators said.
”I think his continued employment needs to be seriously considered,” Alleva said in an April 2019 email to LSU Chancellor William Jenkins and LSU counsel.
Three months later, Alleva wrote an email to incoming LSU President F. King Alexander and LSU attorneys, again suggesting that the university should consider firing Miles.
Investigators said they were unable to find where anyone responded to Alleva’s email.
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