Oregon State board accepts King Alexander’s resignation

F. King Alexander became the latest casualty of LSU’s Title IX scandal, when the Oregon State University Board of Trustees today accepted his resignation as president of OSU amid a growing outcry over the way he handled reports of sexual violence and misconduct while president of LSU from 2013 to 2019.

The unanimous vote came after a more-than two-hour meeting, during which members of the OSU board reversed their March 17 decision to place Alexander on probation until June while they conducted their own investigation into his role in LSU’s ongoing Title IX troubles.

That earlier decision, which followed a seven-hour meeting, generated an immediate outcry from OSU faculty, students and victims of sexual violence, who called for his termination. 

At the outset of today’s meeting, OSU Board Chair Rani Borkar said the board took that message from the community and OSU stakeholders to heart.

“When we adjourned last week, we believed it was possible for President Alexander to repair the broken confidence and trust in his ability to lead OSU,” she said. “After listening to input … we now know rebuilding trust is no longer possible. Simply stated, Dr. Alexander no longer has the confidence of the OSU community.”

Alexander, who was at the helm of OSU for only nine months, also heard the message and submitted a letter of resignation to OSU on Sunday, the terms of which the board spent more than 90 minutes today discussing behind closed doors.

When members emerged, they approved a severance package that will pay Alexander $630,000 in one lump sum—the equivalent of one year’s salary, plus $40,000 in relocation expenses and COBRA insurance.

Accepting those terms, as one board member noted, was preferable and less costly than pursuing litigation to fire Alexander for cause.

Alexander, who attended the public portion of the virtual meeting, appeared to be doing paperwork throughout much of the discussion of his resignation, even while some OSU board members broke down in tears to apologize to the OSU community for their decision last week not to fire Alexander on the spot.

Board member Lamar Hurd, an NBA analyst on national TV and former OSU point guard, wept openly on camera while reiterating his commitment to support survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

Other board members also appeared visibly emotional, while Alexander sat stone-faced, mostly looking down.

Near the end of the meeting, Alexander also apologized to survivors of sexual violence and said he was resigning so OSU could move on.

“Students have and always will be my top priority,” he said, shortly before the board voted to place him on immediate administrative leave until his resignation becomes effective April 1.

Alexander is the second high-profile casualty of the Title IX scandal, first reported last fall by USA Today and since detailed in a report by the law firm Husch Blackwell. Earlier this month, former head football coach Les Miles, who factored prominently in the report for acting inappropriately with female student workers, was forced to step down as head football coach at the University of Kansas. His boss there, longtime Athletic Director Jeff Long, also resigned.

No one at LSU, the epicenter of the scandal, has been forced to step down, though two athletic department employees implicated in the Husch Blackwell report were suspended without pay for two weeks.

Former LSU board members, including those who hired Alexander and supported Miles during his winning seasons at LSU, have been silent. That could soon change, however.

The Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, which grilled LSU interim president Tom Galligan during a 10-hour hearing two weeks ago, has requested former LSU board chairs from 2012 to 2020 and former athletic directors during the same period to appear before the committee for a hearing Friday.

The committee will meet at 11 a.m. at the Capitol.