BATON ROUGE, La — Louisiana lawmakers are not happy that LSU football coach Ed Orgeron has chosen not to appear Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children to answer questions related to its probe of sexual misconduct over the years by LSU football players.
Orgeron instead testified in a letter to the committee, which was one of the options he was afforded by the committee when it requested his testimony last week.
“So we are looking into a subpoena for Coach Orgeron,” state representative Aimee Freeman of New Orleans said Wednesday. “All options are on the table. As far as I’m concerned, part of Coach Orgeron’s salary comes from state taxpayers, so the fact that he cannot sit in front of a committee investigating his program is wrong.”
Orgeron is the highest paid state employee in Louisiana at $6 million a year since early 2020 after winning the 2019-20 national championship. The Tiger Athletic Foundation, the fund raising arm of the LSU athletic department, contributes to that salary with $400,000 a year.
“The committee decided to invite Coach Orgeron and other LSU officials first with the option of writing a statement to see what happens,” Freeman said. “We haven’t subpoenaed him yet. We’re looking into that.”
Freeman was also critical of LSU deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry, who has told the committee he is out of town and has not yet sent a letter of testimony.
“I can’t understand why these public employees of the state are choosing not to testify,” said Freeman, who is not on the select committee but has attended its previous hearings.
At a hearing on March 26, Superdome security employee Gloria Scott, 74, testified about former LSU running back Derrius Guice sexually harassing and propositioning her at a high school football playoff game on Dec. 9, 2017. She said Orgeron lied when he said he did not speak to her on the phone about it at the time.
“What was said to Ms. Scott by Mr. Guice in 2017 is utterly unacceptable,” Orgeron said in his three-page letter dated April 6. “Further, I was deeply upset when I watched the video of Ms. Scott’s testimony, as it was the first time that I heard all of the details of her encounter with Mr. Guice. I am devastated that she was talked to in such a vulgar and inappropriate manner, and I applaud her courage to provide her statements.”
Orgeron went on to say that “an athletic department representative told me (in December of 2017) that Mr. Guice had disrespected an older woman and the representative wanted him to apologize.”
Orgeron said he “was not given the details” and “trusted our staff.”
Guice was cut by the Washington Football Team in August after being charged with domestic abuse of his girlfriend. While a freshman at LSU in 2016, he was accused of rape by two female LSU students. Guice was at the heart of the Husch Blackwell investigation of LSU’s mishandling of sexual allegations against Guice and former player Drake Davis that was released on March 6 and led to brief suspensions of associate athletic director Miriam Segar and Ausberry.
Both have completed their suspensions.
Segar has sent a letter to the committee and will also not appear at the hearing, nor will athletic director Scott Woodward, who has also sent a letter to the committee. Among those still expected to attend the hearing are LSU Board of Supervisors executive director Jason Droddy, board member James Williams, former board member Ronnie Anderson, former board attorney Tom Skinner, Title IX coordinator Jennie Stewart and attorney Vicki Crochet, who has represented LSU.
Orgeron and others were going to be asked more about Guice at the hearing, according to Louisiana Senator Regina Barrow, who is the head of the select committee.
“While I appreciate receiving the statement, the coach’s decision not to appear before the committee is troubling,” Barrow said. “These hearings are so important to the young women and to Ms. Scott, who have been sexually assaulted, abused and/or raped because they allow for a dialogue to take place and for questions to be answered.”
Orgeron was asked why he chose not to attend the hearing during a teleconference on Tuesday.
“I made my release this morning,” he said, referring to his letter. “Said what I had to say, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
Asked if anyone at LSU told him to attend or not to attend, Orgeron said, “Again, I made my statement. You can read it, and that’s it.”
Barrow criticized Orgeron’s statement.
“The coach’s statement does nothing to speak directly to the actions that occurred or to which action he took after he learned of the allegations,” she said. “In fact, his statement seeks to discredit Ms. Scott’s testimony by drawing unfounded parallels between Ms. Scott and others. Coach Orgeron and all those involved in this matter owe it to those ladies to stop with this dismissive behavior and to own up to what occurred.”
Freeman said the committee can recommend LSU coaches or officials involved be fired.
“From the reports on Verge Ausberry in the Sharon Lewis lawsuit, it is clear to me that he shouldn’t be working with students,” she said.
Lewis, LSU’s associate athletic director of football recruiting, is suing LSU, claiming years of harassment and retaliation after blowing the whistle on former coach Les Miles.
Lewis is expected at the hearing Thursday.
“The committee will continue to focus on uncovering the truth and finding those responsible for these acts, which is well within this committee’s oversight boundaries and purpose for which it was formed,” Barrow said.
Coach Orgeron Senate Statement by USA TODAY Network Tennessee on Scribd
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU coach Ed Orgeron could be subpoenaed after not testifying in person