OSU president responds to mishandled sexual misconduct allegations at his previous university

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
March 9, 2021 2 p.m.

Oregon State University President F. King Alexander issued a statement Monday evening in response to a report that detailed mishandling of numerous sexual misconduct allegations at Louisiana State University, where he had served as president before OSU.

“This review includes matters that took place while I served as LSU’s president, and I am deeply saddened by the experiences of survivors of sexual misconduct detailed in this review,” Alexander wrote in a message sent to the OSU campus community. “This review also offers essential information for all colleges and universities nationwide — including Oregon State University.”


The report was released last week by an outside law firm hired by LSU following reporting from USA Today last year that the university had mishandled sexual misconduct complaints against top student athletes.

Along with those accounts, the report also details alleged sexual misconduct committed by former LSU head football coach Les Miles against multiple students from 2009 to 2016 — including him sexualizing student workers, and taking on a direct role in hiring those workers, explicitly looking to only hire blondes and “pretty girls.”

Another allegation details a student worker reporting “inappropriate contact and text messages with Miles.”

Miles has denied all misconduct allegations, the report said.

The report states there were no records in either LSU’s Title IX Office or its human resources office regarding the allegations against Miles.

“[T]he issue is whether the University responded to this report against a powerful member of the University and Athletics Department in a manner consistent with then-existing legal guidance, well recognized best practices, and institutional policy. The answer is ‘no,’” the report states.

According to the report, in 2013 LSU’s athletic director recommended to university administration — including then-incoming President Alexander — that Miles be terminated with cause. Miles remained in his position for another three years until he was fired in 2016.

Alexander said Monday that he and other LSU leaders were told at the time that there was not enough evidence to support terminating Miles.


In hindsight, Alexander said, he regrets not taking stronger action against the head coach.

“While LSU’s president, information that I had received throughout my tenure was that any complaints regarding sexual misconduct and Title IX violations were fully investigated and the results were appropriately documented,” Alexander said in his statement. “I am disheartened to learn that this report indicates that guidance from the university on how to report Title IX cases was not clear and consistent; that cases were inconsistently managed; and that some individuals did not follow directions, policies and requirements for misconduct reporting.”

The report states that in investigative interviews and community outreach sessions, LSU campus community members expressed frustration and disappointment in the university’s response to calls of raising awareness over sexual misconduct.

“These frustrations were aimed largely at Alexander whom community members felt did not prioritize this issue or meaningfully engage with individuals raising concerns,” the report said.

According to Oregon State, Alexander served as president and chancellor of LSU from 2013 to 2019. He stepped into his position at OSU last summer.

“My commitment to preventing sexual misconduct is deeply personal and decades long,” Alexander wrote Monday, stating he had created LSU’s first internal Title IX office in 2016.

The investigative report stated that Alexander also created a task force in 2016 to review policies and procedures related to Title IX. That task force eventually submitted a report to Alexander with its findings, including 17 recommendations, but according to a law professor who sat on the task force, those recommendations “went nowhere.”

LSU’s Title IX Coordinator Jennie Stewart in 2016 also gave a presentation to Alexander and other administrators at the time proposing that the university hire and train multiple Title IX investigators and assistants.

According to the report, Stewart said that Alexander agreed with the presentation, but only one Title IX lead investigator was hired out of the handful of proposed positions.

“At Oregon State University, Title IX and sexual misconduct are addressed much differently,” Alexander wrote.

He said OSU is committed “to fostering a university community free of misconduct” through processes that include strict reporting by employees of any violations.

“I assure you that OSU will continue to improve its sexual misconduct and Title IX response, prevention, education and services for those affected by misconduct,” Alexander said.