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Haunted by poor football season and Title IX scandals, LSU moves on from Ed Orgeron

TigerStadiumCC.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

LSU announced Sunday that head football coach Ed Orgeron will not return to lead the team for the 2022 season.

The football program’s part in the Title IX scandal wasn’t even the most recent reports of sexual misconduct at LSU. A French Studies department chair, Adelaide Russo, was removed from her position last week for failing to act on six accusations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by a French graduate student, Edouard d'Espalungue d'Arros. The six women who reported to Russo, and one more who came forward later, filed a Title IX lawsuit against LSU. The Advocate reports that about 100 students staged a protest Monday to support stronger measures protecting students from sexual assault at the university.

According to a letter from Scott Woodward, the university’s athletics director, Orgeron will serve as coach for the rest of the current season. Orgeron agreed not to coach for any SEC team until April 2023, according to the termination agreement he signed Sunday. The coach is being terminated “without cause.”

Per the buyout agreement, LSU will pay Orgeron $10,352,000 over nine installments between Dec. 15, 2021 and Dec. 15, 2025, with funds from the university’s athletics foundation. Orgeron’s company, My 3 Tiger Boyz, LLC, will receive $5,917,000 in eight installments between Jan. 15, 2022 and July 15, 2025. A one-time $680,000 payment will be made to UbieKauf, LLC, a California-based company with ties to sports management and representation firms.

Orgeron came aboard as interim head coach in September 2016 and was formally named head coach two months later. In 2019, he led the team through a no-loss season and brought LSU a national championship trophy.

But 2020 brought a football season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and two bombshell reports from USA TODAY, which implicated dozens of LSU staff in widespread failure to uphold Title IX requirements, such as reporting sexual assault and rape to the proper authorities. The fallout from the reports included former LSU President F. King Alexander’s resignation from his new post at Oregon State University and former Tiger football coach Les Miles leaving his new role as head coach at the University of Kansas.

Orgeron was accused of failing to report multiple cases of sexual assault and rape perpertrated by his team, most notably Derrius Guice, who is accused of raping multiple women at the university. Orgeron initially denied any wrongdoing.

A testimony from Gloria Scott during a state’s Senate Select Committee on Women and Children alleged that Orgeron called her after she reported that Guice sexually harassed her at the New Orleans Superdome. Months later, a Title IX lawsuit followed, claiming that Orgeron was told about a rape by Guice. He denied both accusations, according to The Advocate.

Some members of the university community spoke to Baton Rouge Public Radio to discuss how they felt about Orgeron’s departure.

Robert Mann, a professor and department chair at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication said sports reporters failed audiences by not questioning Orgeron about the Title IX scandals that have haunted him since last year, calling them “cheerleaders” for the LSU football program.

“It's just a disappointment that (Orgeron) isn’t facing scrutiny,” Mann said. “And even when he has faced it, he's refused to talk about it. But he at least ought to be forced to avoid the questions, instead of not ever having the questions asked at all.”

Mann said it’s disappointing that Orgeron’s termination wasn’t for cause, pointing to the Title IX scandal and the accusations against the coach as a reason he should have been let go.

“They were fine with that, presumably, until he started losing football games,” he said.

Emily Boudreaux, an LSU senior in the Women and Gender Studies program, also believes that disappointing football performance is the primary factor in Orgeron’s separation, but the sexual misconduct reports also contributed.

“I don't think it's for the right reasons,” Boudreaux said. “I feel like it's predominantly how they're doing in football. And I think that (LSU is) more concerned about the (reputation) of the school ... I also think they are concerned about (Orgeron’s) reputation.”

The football program’s part in the Title IX scandal wasn’t even the most recent reports of sexual misconduct at LSU. A French Studies department chair, Adelaide Russo, was removed from her position last week for failing to act on six accusations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by a French graduate student, Edouard d'Espalungue d'Arros. The six women who reported to Russo, and one more who came forward later, filed a Title IX lawsuit against LSU. The Advocate reports that about 100 students staged a protest Monday to support stronger measures protecting students from sexual assault at the university.

Wade Henderson, an LSU student studying broadcast journalism, feels that Orgeron’s Title IX scandal and the one regarding d’Esplangue are both part of LSU’s larger problem with protecting students from sexual assault. He feels that the football team’s poor performance gave LSU “an easier scapegoat,” a way to “gloss over getting rid of (Orgeron).”

“As they select (Orgeron’s) replacement, it would be nice if LSU could stick to their values, or at least the values that the university is trying to put forward,” he continued. “Somebody who's on the level with the students, not just the athletes.”

As Orgeron finishes out his contract for the season, the search for LSU’s next head coach will begin, though Woodward wouldn’t confirm any details on search efforts during a Sunday press conference.

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