Parents of former Oregon State volleyball players have asked the school’s administration to consider, during the debate over its future, how President F. King Alexander has handled allegations of abuse in the program, as he has responded to unrelated sexual abuse cases while at LSU.
Two volleyball parents offered to comment – one by email and the other by phone – on this week’s board meeting, in which administrators put Alexander on probation until Jan. 1. June gave by taking stock of his actions at LSU.
The school’s independent investigation found a serious institutional failure in handling allegations of sexual misconduct against top athletes and others at LSU. There was also a case involving allegations of harassment against former football coach Les Miles, which Alexander did nothing about during his tenure, which ended in 2019.
The parents of the volleyball players pointed out that the board doesn’t have to look that far ahead to get an idea of how Alexander handles these types of issues. The school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access launched an investigation into Oregon volleyball coach Mark Barnard and the athletics department before Alexander took the helm in June 2020, and action has been taken, according to a school spokesman who declined to comment on the issue during an Associated Press investigation last year.
But requests by a parent to meet with Alexander about matters after his assumption of office were denied.
They want to discuss changes that can be made immediately to fix the flaws in OSU’s system and prevent the volleyball team’s next suicide attempt, the former player’s mother wrote in an email to administrators. My application was rejected on the grounds that the investigation had been completed. Was this the same leadership style of President Alexander when he was at LSU?
The AP found that three players contemplated suicide during Barnard’s first five years as head coach. At least a dozen players quit or switched sides during his tenure. Some claim that Barnard, who still coaches the team, uses the scholarships as leverage against those he dislikes and creates an emotionally toxic atmosphere, sometimes pushing players over the edge of safety during practice.
The mother of one of the players, Dorina Waters, spoke at Alexander’s hearing about the massive violations at many programs, including coach Mark Barnard’s, that is frustrating to this day.
In an interview with the AP after the meeting, Waiters, whose daughter Kayla moved to Nevada shortly after seeking help when she became depressed and had suicidal thoughts in Oregon, said the commission did not seem interested in the volleyball case.
They said they didn’t want to talk about other things that had already happened, Doreena Waiters said. And I think: What the hell are we doing here? I thought the most reasonable approach was to put everything on the table.
Although Alexander became president of Oregon after the Barnard investigation into the EOA division was completed, he led Oregon when the AP stories were investigated and was not available for comment on those stories.
One of Alexander’s main arguments about the LSU scenario is that the investigation into Miles, who was under investigation for allegations of sexual harassment of students, was over before Alexander arrived in 2013.
I always thought he was a danger to the university, Alexander told the Oregon Senate last week. But again…it was the board that made that decision on the 15th. May met before coming to LSU.
The state of Oregon has filed a lawsuit challenging the AP’s public request for information about the volleyball case. Administrators did not immediately respond to an email from the AP asking about their role in the lawsuit and whether they would consider the volleyball case when deciding on Alexander’s future.
On Wednesday, Mr. Alexander issued a public statement that read in part: I understand that the power of my position requires me to do more to ensure that the university is free from sexual violence and abuse in all its forms.
He said he is in the process of reviewing school violence support programs and aims to make more resources available to victims of violence.
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