The school’s board of trustees announced F. King Alexander’s resignation this week after details came to light about how his former school, LSU, handled cases of sexual misconduct during his tenure.
The Associated Press requested the documents after its own reports revealed complaints from more than a dozen people close to current Oregon State volleyball coach Mark Barnard or who were part of his program. Three players contemplated suicide while he was there.
At public meetings to discuss the future of Alexander, Oregon State administrators apologized to their community and promised transparency and accountability when it comes to protecting students on campus.
Meanwhile, in the volleyball case, the school is trying to file a complaint against the AP to prevent the release of details about the team’s internal investigation and Barnard, who critics say runs an emotionally exploitative program. In the past five years, at least a dozen players have quit or moved on to another game.
The coach has been accused of threatening not to renew scholarships to motivate players to play better. He pitted them against each other, and also asked team leaders to identify weak links in the team to exclude them from the team, prosecutors said.
The university, through spokesman Steve Clark, denied that the difficult circumstances led team members to consider suicide. He said Oregon State communicates clearly about its scholarship offers and keeps its promise to athletes.
Clark, who did not respond to an email requesting comment on this story, said the action was taken by athletics director Scott Barnes following an investigation by the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, but did not provide details.
Shortly after the publication of the second part of the series last November, the AP requested information and documents about the investigation through a request for public documents. Oregon State flatly denied the first request, and after the AP won an appeal to the local district attorney’s office, the university sued the news agency in a state lawsuit to prevent it from having to disclose anything. A hearing in this matter is scheduled for the 25th. June is expected.
The denial is simply a continuation of their attempts to manipulate the process from the beginning, said Rick Lee, a former OSU basketball player who has been critical of the administration in the volleyball case. He deserves a fine, and not just for coaching. There is no point in opening your mouth to one person (Alexander), but they are completely silent in this situation.
Among the documents requested by the AP are documents related to a complaint filed by a player that led to an investigation into possible violations of OSU’s policy on harassment and retaliation against members of the volleyball team. The investigation was completed last May and the results have not been made public or offered to the family of the player who filed the complaint.
Across the country, LSU has faced setbacks in dealing with sexual misconduct cases, most of which occurred years before the problems with Oregon’s volleyball program. The main link between these issues was the person responsible for each campus at the time the problems came to light: Alexander.
He was president of LSU from 2013-19, then came to Oregon State in 2020. When confronted with the full picture of Alexander’s response to LSU’s crises, the Oregon Board of Trustees decided on a conscience investigation that resulted in the president’s resignation and numerous statements from trustees who promised to do their jobs better.
A lot of things have been swept under the rug, said Lamar Hurd, a former OSU basketball player who now sits on the school board, while holding back his tears during Tuesday’s public meeting. I want you to know that we don’t do that here. It won’t happen.
Hard, who vowed that Oregon State would make amends in the future, did not respond to a message on his AP phone.
At least two parents of former Oregon State volleyball players used the public hearing on Alexander’s future to ask questions about the consideration of volleyball. One of them said she wanted to speak to Alexander about the volleyball program, but was turned down and told that the investigation into the program was over. The trustees have not addressed these issues.
They also did not respond to two letters from the AP requesting comment for this story, the second of which was also sent to President Clark. One of the questions was whether the panel or Alexander had approved the action against PA.
I think there’s something in those files that they don’t want, said Dorina Waters, whose daughter Kayla, who left Oregon State after a year on the volleyball team, triggered depression that led to suicidal thoughts.
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