More light shed on Guice fallout
Bottom line: Derrius Guice should never have played for LSU in the 2018 Citrus Bowl.
Never mind that, despite two touchdowns from their star running back, the Tigers lost 21-17 to Notre Dame anyway.
There’s plenty of blame and shame to go around in the wake of the school’s Husch Blackwell report, which details a laundry list of players involved in sexual misconduct and harassment, and how LSU’s Title IX compliance office handled the matters.
But the incident that has taken center stage — and prompted a State Senate committee to request testimony from head coach Ed Orgeron and other athletic officials — was Guice’s alleged sexually suggestive, verbal harassment of 74-year-old Superdome security guard Gloria Scott, which happened almost a month before the bowl game while he was attending a high school championship game.
Scott testified tearfully on March 26 before the committee about the incident, claiming that she spoke with Orgeron and wanted Guice to be punished by not playing in the bowl game.
Orgeron has said he does not remember speaking with Scott.
But that story took an odd turn this week when LSU released telephone recordings from shortly after the Superdome incident. In the recordings, New Orleans youth coach Cleavon Williams is speaking with LSU associate athletic directors Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar.
Supposedly speaking on Scott’s behalf, after a lot of street-wise verbal gymnastics, Williams gets around to asking for $100,000 from LSU for Scott’s silence on the matter.
Scott has denied ever asking for money or having someone do it for her.
But on the tape, Segar asks Williams: “I think what you said was, ‘If LSU wants to protect Derrius and LSU wants him to play (in the bowl), and protect his character, that you expect LSU to provide monetary compensation to Mrs. Scott?’ “
Williams, who claims to be speaking on Scott’s behalf, answers: “Yes, ma’am. You got that very clear.”
Ausberry and Segar are the only two LSU employees to be punished over the Husch Blackwell report — and critics have railed that their brief, unpaid suspensions were too lenient.
But their reaction to Williams’s fishing for dollars is about as well as anybody from LSU has come off in this whole sordid affair.
Segar suggests that what Williams is talking about “almost seems like blackmail.”
He denies it, eventually saying: “It’s straightforward. Now, in reference to (Scott) supporting what I’m saying, that’s not a problem at all. I’m not making this up. What is the value of Derrius Guice playing in the Citrus Bowl, man? And we go from there.”
Ausberry spars with Williams as to how much money they’re talking about. He eventually gets a text from Williams with the $100,000 price tag.
But Segar is clear on several occasions during the phone call that LSU isn’t paying anything, most emphatically when she says: “LSU is not going to pay money in this situation. It’s unfortunate the circumstances and all that. It’s just that we’re not going to pay. LSU is not going to try to cover something up.”
How much Orgeron knew of all this, according to him not a whole lot, is still not clear.
Orgeron said he was shocked and appalled to hear Scott’s previous testimony, which was graphic in its detail of the alleged Superdome incident.
But it does not seem that Orgeron will appear before the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children on Thursday.
Instead he has sent a letter to the committee, which was obtained by The Advocate of Baton Rouge.
In the letter he repeats that it wasn’t until Scott’s testimony before the same committee that he learned the full details of her encounter with Guice and that “I am devastated that she was talked to in such a vulgar and inappropriate manner, and I applaud her courage to prove her statements.”
He writes that all he heard after the incident was that “Guice had disrespected an older woman and the representative wanted him to apologize. I was not given the details.”
He recalled that he summoned Guice to his office and was given a phone number to call Scott.
“A gentleman answered,” Orgeron wrote. “I do not recall the gentleman giving his name.”
Orgeron said he told the man that Guice wanted to apologize to Scott, but was told “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.”
He goes on to say that the man refused to put Scott on the phone unless Orgeron agreed to suspend Guice from the bowl game.
“I was not prepared to suspend a student-athlete from a game without discussion with the University and obtaining more information,” he explained in the letter.
“I did not speak directly to Ms. Scott. That is my remembrance from three years ago of a telephone call that I do not believe lasted more than two minutes, if that, and is admittedly vague.”
If Orgeron truly did not know the full scope of what Guice had done, then it’s part of the overall breakdown in the way the athletic department and university were handling such matters.
And it came back to haunt them.
It shouldn’t have taken “blackmail” to get Guice suspended for the Citrus Bowl.
Common decency would have been enough.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU
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