Former LSU President F. King Alexander, who resigned as Oregon State’s president Tuesday over backlash for his failure to control LSU’s Title IX problems, said in a published story Friday that he was told in April 2019 by the LSU Board of Supervisors to fire then-athletics director Joe Alleva because the Board had already hired Alleva’s successor and current A.D. Scott Woodward.
Reporter Jack Stribling of The Chronicle of Higher Education website conducted a series of interviews with Alexander this week about his time as LSU’s president from July 2013-December 2019.
Stribling also interviewed James M. Williams, who was the LSU Board of Supervisors chairman when Alleva was fired and Woodward was hired, and also spoke with Alexander’s wife and father and a source who had knowledge of the events.
Alexander said at a night meeting with himself and several Board members including Williams at Juban’s restaurant on Perkins Road that he was told the Board had already hired Woodward.
“They had already hired a guy I had never interviewed — a guy I had never met,” Alexander said in Friday’s story. “They had already negotiated a salary. He (Williams) wrote down the numbers on a cocktail napkin and said ‘This is what we’re paying our new athletic director.’”
Alexander said he was told “you have to fire him (Alleva) tomorrow.”
Williams disputed Alexander’s version, saying there was fan unrest about Alleva who in his tenure had not overseen a national championship football team and who had suspended men’s basketball coach Will Wade just before the postseason because of Wade’s refusal to talk with LSU administrators about possible recruiting violations.
Williams said the meeting was designed to give Alexander an “opportunity” to change things. He also said he had not negotiated a salary with Woodward and didn’t remember writing salary numbers on a cocktail napkin.
The day after the meeting at Juban’s, Alexander and LSU general counsel met with Alleva at a lounge at the University Club.
“I said, ‘Joe, I’m so sorry,’” Alexander said. “‘But the board leadership has hired a new athletics director, and I’ve got to fire you.’ It was the three of us in a room. He said, ‘It’s not your fault.’ He said, ‘I know these guys have been after me.’
“It was kind of a Monday-night massacre. I said, ‘We’ve hired a new AD, and it’s a good ol’ boy from Baton Rouge.’
“That’s when I knew I needed to get out of there. That’s when I started looking. The board wanted to run everything.”
Alexander said he talked with The Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Stribling mostly for one reason.
“I want to help presidents who are dealing with this type of intrusion,” Alexander said. “I’m in this business to help students — not to promote football. If this story helps presidents tell board members where they’re overreaching, that’s why I’m talking.”
The entire Chronicle of Higher Education story on Alexander can be read by clicking this link: