We’ve become more than a little jaded by these seemingly non-stop rumors of Alleva’s demise.
But they’re stronger than ever now, and this morning the Baton Rouge Business Report finally broke the ice and ran with a news story on Alleva’s ouster…
LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva is expected to step down—perhaps as early as today—from the position he has held at the university for more than a decade, a high ranking source within the LSU System tells Daily Report.
LSU officials declined to comment.
Though Alleva is coming off one of LSU’s strongest seasons in years for its football, basketball, gymnastics and softball teams, among others, the embattled athletics director has been an unpopular figure among fans and, more importantly, boosters, since failing to fire football coach Les Miles in 2015 to ink a deal with Jimbo Fisher, now the head coach at Texas A&M.
More recently, Alleva drew fan ire for suspending men’s basketball coach Will Wade, who was caught on an FBI wiretap investigating a recruitment scandal. Wade was reinstated earlier this week.
While details of Alleva’s expected departure remain murky, sources say a deal is in the works to replace him with a nationally recognized leader in university athletics. That announcement is also expected in the coming days.
That story casts a little different light on the Alleva saga.
We’ve passed along what we’ve heard on the topic a few times in the past month as these rumors continued raging – two examples of which can be found here and here. The basic gist of what our sources have told us is that LSU megadonor Richard Lipsey, who co-founded the Tiger Athletic Foundation four decades ago and most recently served at the chairman of the Board of Regents overseeing higher education in Louisiana, has been working to put together buyout money to send Alleva packing, and that Lipsey had attracted an ally in LSU Board of Supervisors chairman James Williams for that cause.
But it was almost two weeks ago when word began leaking out about the Lipsey-Williams effort, and nothing much had happened. We more or less gave up on the idea anything on Alleva was coming soon, even though we were bombarded by readers asking us what we’d heard about an impending move on Friday evening and then again last night the questions came harder and heavier than ever before.
Yesterday evening there was a closed-door meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors which was set purportedly to discuss “potential litigation against the University,” with no further description of what that entailed, and as soon as it was over there was an avalanche of “Alleva is out” messages on social media and message boards. Whether Alleva’s status had changed or not, it seems apparent something was going on.
And whether it’s today, tomorrow, the end of the week or over the summer before a move is made it would seem that Alleva isn’t long for his current job. This much smoke means there has to be some fire somewhere.
The “nationally recognized leader” referred to in the Business Report piece would presumably be Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward, who is from Baton Rouge and got his start working in higher education when he was Vice Chancellor of External Affairs for then-chancellor Mark Emmert at LSU from 1999-2004. But Woodward makes $1.2 million per year at Texas A&M and has an almost ideal situation with unlimited resources in College Station; pulling him into what is at best an unsettled situation at LSU would seem a very tall order unless he were to be coming with a promotion of some sort.
Another potential name would be Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, who served as the No. 2 man at LSU when Skip Bertman was the athletic director. Radakovich didn’t hire head football coach Dabo Swinney at Clemson, but Swinney has certainly had his best success while Radakovich has been the AD there and Clemson is nationally competitive in a host of sports. Like Woodward, though, it’s not a sure thing Radakovich would leave the job he currently has for an unsettled situation at LSU.
Two other names to consider in the event the Business Report’s story is true – former Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, who took that university’s athletic department from essentially a mid-major program built solely on basketball into a full-fledged powerhouse with top-performing teams in all the major sports and steered Louisville into the ACC, but was fired in 2017 amid revelations about sordid basketball recruiting activities, and Central Florida athletic director Danny White, who grew up in New Orleans (his father Kevin White was athletic director at Tulane for several years) and has SEC ties from having served as an associate AD at Ole Miss before helping to build midmajor powers at Buffalo and UCF in recent years.
Still, a pair of LSU alumni should be considered as strong contenders for the job if Alleva really is exiting – Herb Vincent, a former sports information director and vice chancellor for communications at LSU now working as an executive in the SEC headquarters in Birmingham, and Verge Ausberry, currently the No. 2 man under Alleva. Ausberry would be expected to take over for Alleva at least on an interim basis should a move be made.
But regardless of what you might hear, don’t be surprised if nothing official comes from LSU today on an Alleva ouster. These rumors have popped up before with no result, and Alleva has had a history of surviving when nobody thought it was possible.