The Oregon State Board of Trustees voted 12-2 on Wednesday to place university president F. King Alexander on probation through June 1 as a result of his involvement in the Les Miles scandal at LSU, where he was the president at the time.
According to a public letter from Oregon State board chair Rani Borkar, the board reviewed the Husch Blackwell report, which detailed systemic failures by LSU to appropriately report incidents of athletic-related sexual misconduct and abuse. The report revealed that Alexander knew of the allegations against Miles when he was hired as president in 2013.
On Wednesday, the board heard “extensive public comments, reviewed written communications from members of the public; held a public discussion with President Alexander” about his leadership over Title IX during his tenure at LSU, which ended in December 2019.
“President Alexander will be required to review the recommendations of the Husch Blackwell report relevant to OSU policies and practices and provide the Board with a report by June 1 that assesses and seeks to improve any OSU policies, procedures and funding needs for Title IX reporting and survivor support services,” the letter stated. “President Alexander also will provide to the Board by June 1 a concrete plan to rebuild trust and relationships with the university community.”
Former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva recommended in 2013 that Les Miles be fired as head coach of the football program after accusations of inappropriate behavior with female student workers, according to the investigative report, which was released earlier this month.
According to the investigation by Husch Blackwell, Alleva sent an email on June 21, 2013, to LSU’s legal counsel and Alexander. Alleva wrote, “one more time I want us to think about which scenario is worse for LSU. Explaining why we let him go or explaining why we let him stay.”
“I believe he is guilty of insubordination, inappropriate behavior, putting the university, athletic dept and football program at great risk,” Alleva wrote in the email, which was included in the report. “I think we have cause. I specifically told him not to text, call or be alone with any student workers and he obviously didn’t listen. I know there are many possible outcomes and much risk either way, but I believe it is in the best interest in the long run to make a break.”
According to the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Alexander has said he was advised by attorneys not to fire Miles, and that he was unable to dismiss him because the LSU governing board had made the decision to retain Miles before Alexander took office.
The local newspaper reported that Wednesday’s public comment section of the videoconference included “passionate testimony” from members of the community who expressed a “growing concern over Alexander’s track record.” The newspaper reported that each of the 19 people who spoke was “highly critical of Alexander’s responses to the Husch Blackwell report,” and many who commented called for Alexander to resign or be removed.
Alexander released a public video statement late Wednesday night, telling survivors he is sorry and will immediately launch a review of Oregon State University survivors’ support programs. He also said he will evaluate funding, staffing and services for existing programs and resources.
“I understand that the power of my position requires more from me to do everything I can to ensure the university is free from sexual violence and violence in all forms,” he said in the video. “I know that there was more I could have done at LSU given the power of my office and the expectation of community members. As university president, I should have sought every opportunity to hold others accountable. I stand with and support survivors of all forms of sexual violence and affirm the work of our advocates. As your president, I assure you I work to rebuild trust.”