There will be no LSU employees testifying Thursday before the Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women and Children.
State Sen. Regina Barrow said after both LSU football coach Ed Orgeron and athletics director Scott Woodward declined to answer questions in person, the committee requested that Sharon Lewis, LSU’s associate athletic director of football recruiting also testify.
Lewis has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the university, and had agreed to appear at the hearing to answer questions about LSU’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases. But on Wednesday, LSU blocked that request with a letter to lawmakers stating that “persons associated with the university cannot answer questions under oath because of the pending lawsuit.”
The letter read in part, “Regrettably, in light of this threatened litigation, it would not be prudent for persons associated with LSU to provide testimony under oath at the senate committee meeting scheduled tomorrow. Allowing persons who will inevitably be witnesses in to testify under oath on facts related to these claims, is simply not a prudent risk.”
Lewis filed the lawsuit after alleging in an USA Today story she was harassed and undermined by former head football coach Les Miles, who made no secret about trying to sexualize the group of student workers she supervised. She also said Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry verbally abused her and he and Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar lied to an LSU Title IX investigator to get her in trouble.
Lewis told USA Today said Miles repeatedly pressured her to replace black student workers on her recruiting staff with blond women or light-skinned Black women whom he considered prettier. She said when she refused, he directed other coaches and administrators to get her to comply.
Lewis recalled a meeting with Miles, director of football operations Sam Nader, assistant coach Frank Wilson and then-director of player personnel Sherman Morris in which Miles confronted Lewis about the type of girls he wanted for a recruiting event. When she rejected his orders, she said he kicked everyone out of the room and then threatened her.
“He got in my face and said that if I was a coach and didn’t do what he said, he would punch him in his mother f—— face,” Lewis said. “I said, ‘I guess that you will just have to punch me in my mother f—— face.’”
Orgeron issued a statement Tuesday to the committee that he denied speaking directly with Gloria Scott just days after the 74-year great-grandmother was sexually harassed by LSU’s then-star running back Derrius Guice while she worked as a security guard at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in December 2017.
His statement said, “Sometime in December 2017, an athletic department representative told me that Mr. Guice had disrespected an older woman and the representative wanted him to apologize. I was not given the details. I trusted our staff, and like them, believed that if Mr. Guice was disrespectful, he should apologize. The representative brought Mr. Guice to my office after our practice. I was given a number to call, I dialed, and a gentleman answered. I do not recall the gentleman giving me his name. I told the gentleman who I was, and that I was calling with Mr. Guice present, so that Mr. Guice could apologize to Ms. Scott. I do not remember my exact words or the entire conversation.
“The gentleman said something to the effect that Ms. Scott did not want an apology, and that instead she requested that Mr. Guice not be able to play in the Citrus Bowl. The gentleman refused to put Ms. Scott on the phone unless I agreed to the terms upfront. I told the gentleman that I would have to get back to him. The conversation ended, as I was not prepared to suspend a student-athlete for a game without a discussion with the University and obtaining more thorough information.
“At the same time, it is important to say, that me speaking to Ms. Scott directly or not, does not change the fact that what happened to Ms. Scott in 2017 is unequivocally wrong.”
Orgeron said he later learned “the gentleman” he spoke to in 2017, Cleve Williams, demanded $100,000 in compensation from LSU for Scott or have Guice benched for the Citrus Bowl.
“As a leader, and as a father, son, and grandson, I want to emphasize that it is heartbreaking Ms. Scott was subjected to such crude remarks by Mr. Guice, and she should be respected for her bravery and resolve to provide her statements to the Committee,” Orgeron said. “She, along with this Committee, has my word that I will continue to be vigilant in ensuring that the LSU football program maintains a culture of integrity and compliance.”
Scott told the Advocate newspaper she’s upset because she never authorized Williams to seek a monetary settlement.