It’s been nearly one year since USA Today released its investigative article detailing years of misconduct in the Title IX office.
Among the exposed mishandlings were Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron’s alleged coverups of numerous Title IX violations from football players, including former running back Derrius Guice.
Despite outcries from the student body in the last year to hold the coach and other athletics officials accountable, no sanctions were placed against him. In fact, it was obscene to entertain firing the coach who led an undefeated season just one season prior, especially after his contract was then renewed for six more years and would cost $17 million to end early.
As it turns out, it only takes a few bad football games for Orgeron to get the boot. Not his clear attempts to shield Guice from accountability in allegedly raping a woman, sexually harassing a 74-year-old and committing numerous other sexual crimes. No, just three dismal losses to lesser football teams and dropping out of the AP rankings.
“Ultimately, we have very high standards for all of our sports programs at LSU, and we will stand proudly behind our expectations of competing for SEC and national championships year in and year out,” Athletic Director Scott Woodward said. “Our last two seasons have simply not met those standards.”
Sure. Yeah. Right.
Orgeron’s predecessor Les Miles wasn’t fired for sexually harassing student workers. His crimes didn’t even surface until eight years later when the Husch Blackwell report revealed an investigation into his mistreatment of women.
And let’s not forget tennis coaches Julia and Michael Sell, who also saw no punishments after it became public that they ignored complaints of domestic abuse and created a “toxic” environment for players during their years at the university. They continue to coach, and the conversation of their potential firing has fizzled out over time.
This is the pattern of LSU Athletics. Even after its inability to hold sexual predators accountable became the subject of national scrutiny, it continues to prioritize winning games and maximizing profits over holding officials accountable for their compliance, crimes or both.
The decision to fire Orgeron following one bad football run has made one thing clear to the LSU community: the decision-makers of this university have been willing to fire Orgeron all along for reasons they care about–reasons not associated with sexual assault, sexual harassment and other appalling behavior.
What Orgeron’s dismissal does show is that university leadership obviously doesn’t find cover-ups of sexual crimes to be a fireable offense.
Ultimately, it’s no secret that this decision wasn’t only in the hands of Woodward. The true final say on the matter came from the almighty Board of Supervisors.
This is the same Board that doled out blatantly weak punishments for Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar and Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry after they clearly violated Title IX policies. The Board that has yet to take real action on the former French instructor and alleged rapist Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros, now escaped back to France. The Board that, just last week, couldn’t discern if the phrase “good morning, dahlin’” constituted sexual harassment during a Title IX training session.
This Board has shown its true colors time and time again this past year, prioritizing football and profit over accountability for perpetrators of sexual crimes on their campus.
You would think that a university and athletic department so fixated on profit would have fired Orgeron for cause while they still could to avoid spending $17 million to buy out his contract, but it looks like they didn’t have a crystal ball to predict the series of unfortunate events that have been the 2021 football season.
Sports editor Reed Darcey contributed to this editorial.
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