By Dayne Sherman
The week of April 19 was one of the worst periods in the history of Louisiana higher education. The legislators appear completely lost, unable or unwilling to come to terms with a crippling $1.6 billion budget disaster. They seem bewildered, worse than when Huey Long was shot in the Capitol. They know not what to do or how to do it.
F. King Alexander, the brave leader of LSU, said they are making preparations to file exigency (academic bankruptcy) if the legislators can’t save higher education from Gov. Jindal’s final assault. The next day Moody’s downgraded LSU’s bond rating, and by the end of the week investors fled LSU’s debt offering. The market is scared of what could happen to Louisiana’s flagship.
If LSU files bankruptcy, I predict the smaller schools statewide—Southeastern, ULM, McNeese, Southern, Nicholls, and others—will be closed within a year, shut tight as a steel coffin.
But others need to man up. It’s time for Les Miles, head coach of the Tigers, to stand on the steps of the Capitol and tell the legislators and Jindal to fix it or go home. Fix it or resign. Fix it or never again seek public office in Louisiana.
I can see Coach Miles with a little portable patch of AstroTurf on which to gnaw while he tells it like it is. I can see him flanked by the football team in their purple and gold jerseys. He must tell our lost legislators to do whatever it takes to save LSU and the rest of Louisiana higher education or else. Or else the lights will not go on at Tiger Stadium this fall.
I envision mass chaos after the press conference. At least one legislator will attempt to jump off the Lookout Tower on top of the State Capitol, only to be foiled by the guards. Many will get stuck in an automobile pileup with the malfunctioning security system in the parking lots, trying to leave the grounds before the angry mob finds them. Some will be seen swimming across the Mississippi River to West Baton Rouge Parish.
But LSU and higher education will be saved once the legislators come out of hiding. They will get the message, but we just need Coach to man up.
And if Les Miles does not act, and if the legislators stay lost, I’m afraid “too big to fail” will fail. As professor Bob Mann says, LSU may well be the Lehman Brothers of 2015.
Photo credit: “La. State Capitol” by User:…. – By Chrismiceli (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALouisiana_State_Capitol_Building.jpg
Photo credit: “Les Miles” by User:…. – By JustDog (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/LSU_AUBURN_2.JPG
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
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