DEVILLE: Keeping an eye on the Board

Our July issue of Tiger Rag is typically devoted to our "Year in Sports," a look back at the last 12 months in LSU athletics. And you can find our "Year in Review" in this week's issue. Also, check back to later this week for the full review.

But in addition to preparing our flash back to the previous year, we have experienced one of the busiest summers in recent memory. Since our last issue on June 10, LSU has hired a new baseball coach, lost two prominent athletes to the ranks of professional sports, watched a former LSU women's hoops star become a WNBA All-Star, ushered five former LSU star athletes to the hall of fame and rewarded four coaches all with new contracts and lots of money.


While it has been a rather newsworthy summer, there is one storyline that sticks out above all the rest.


Typically, I reserve the pages of Tiger Rag for sports coverage from the campus of LSU. Seldom do I dive off into the deep end of the pool dissecting the bureaucracy surrounding the political side of LSU.


However, there have been developments on the LSU Board of Supervisors that needs to be brought to the attention of Tiger fans everywhere.


Over the course of the past several weeks, the terms of four of the sitting members of the LSU Board of Supervisors have expired and each were due for re-appointment.


Two of those members, Ronnie Anderson and Stewart Slack, were not re-appointed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco.


Two others, Marty Chabert and longtime board member Charlie Cusimano, have not been re-appointed, but have not been replaced as of press time.


"Marty Chabert and Charlie Cusimano are still in limbo," outgoing board member Ronnie Anderson told Tiger Rag. "They have not been re-appointed, but no one has been appointed in their places so they are still serving."


After nine years of service, Anderson got an initial call from Blanco's office then was officially relieved of his seat on the board via a letter.


"I got a letter from the governor's office saying ‘sorry,' that I was not being re-appointed to the board," Anderson said. "She (Blanco) ‘thanked me for my dedication to the board.' The governor has total control of the board and who serves on it. She wanted to put some new blood on the board. Our terms are staggered and it just so happens that a lot of us came up for re-appointment at the same time."


Conspiracy theorists everywhere have come out of the woodwork and the rumor mill has heated up in recent months. Since LSU Systems President William Jenkins announced he would retire, a debate ensued over who would replace the highly successfully and wildly popular leader.


"There have been some things going on with president Jenkins," Anderson said. "He has until August 2008 before his normal retirement date would be reached. Some of us felt like there was a little bit too much haste in pursuing someone to fill his position. Then there were the rumors about Sally Clausen and the UL system. We felt like it needed to slow down a little bit. It has to an extent."


Clausen, president of the University of Louisiana System, was being rumored as Blanco's choice for Jenkins' replacement, a movement which was met with strong opposition.




Ronnie Anderson served nine years on LSU's Board of Supervisors.

He was recently relieved of duty by Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco.



"I am, initially, concerned with Sally Clausen replacing President Jenkins. I am not really in favor of that," Anderson said. "I think the board should do a national search (for Jenkins' replacement). It may turn out that she (Clausen) is the best candidate. But I think they should go through the process and see what options they have nationally."


In the interim period, LSU hired a search firm to detail the qualifications for the new president before the actual search begins.


"There is a search firm that is putting together some ideas about what the qualifications should be for the next LSU System president," Anderson said. "They are supposed to give a report to the board pretty soon."


Another major concern Anderson has surrounding the re-structuring of the board is the future of the LSU Systems' member institutions. It is widely-known that Blanco, an alum of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, is a huge proponent of the growth of the University of Louisiana system. There has been speculation that several member schools in the LSU System could be handed over to the UL System.


"I do know (Commissioner of Higher Education) Dr. (E. Joseph) Savoy with the (Louisiana) Board of Regents and the past president of our board, Bernie Boudreaux, did visit the UNO, LSU-Alexandria and the LSU-Eunice campuses and talked to them about moving from one system (LSU) to another (UL)," Anderson said. "I am not in favor of that. Those schools were developed and built by the LSU System and it is in theirs' and the LSU System's best interest for them to remain a part of this system."


Anderson says there is no need to panic right now, but with all that has transpired, people should take notice.


"I think it is something LSU fans and backers should watch," Anderson said. "I think they need to be aware of the possibilities and what could happen."


Anderson, who serves as the president of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Bureau of Louisiana, said he is proud of the time he served on the board and will always remember what the board accomplished during his terms of service. Under Anderson's watch, the board hired former LSU chancellor Mark Emmert and football coach Nick Saban, which triggered the most successful period in the history of LSU athletics.


The board achieved many notable accomplishments outside the realm of athletics over the last nine years. The board reformed and raised admission standards, which resulted in an increase in average GPA and graduation rates. Also, Anderson helped oversee the transition of the charity hospital system to the LSU system, something he called "a huge project under good conditions, much less after the hurricanes."


"It really has been a tremendous experience over the last nine years," Anderson said of his term on the board. "I am just tickled to death to have had the opportunity to serve. It was quite an honor. I am just sorry that I am not going to be able to stay longer."


As the clock ticks down on Blanco's term in office, all eyes will be affixed on every move made and how each could affect the LSU System and its future.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at

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