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BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana State Capitol is fittingly just three miles from LSU.
And the politics have been seeping down Nicholson Drive to Tiger Stadium like a busted sewer pipe ever since Democrat Huey Long was basically running the LSU football team as governor from 1928-32. He kept his hand in as a United States senator, too, until his assassination in the Capitol in September of 1935.
Democrat governor John McKeithen (1964-72) had his hands in recruiting and remained heavily involved in football on the Board of Supervisors in the 1980s. Democrat governor Edwin Edwards (1972-80, 1984-88, 1992-96) had his hands on many things in office, including football. Republican governor Bobby Jindal (2008-16) lobbied LSU powers to make sure they kept football coach Les Miles from returning to his alma mater when Michigan offered him the job following the 2010 season.
Dale Brown Court Is Barely A Year Old
And now, present Democrat governor John Bel Edwards has made the Pete Maravich Assembly Center basketball court a political football.
Edwards, according to sources close to and on the LSU Board of Supervisors, told the Board members to vote to change the name of the arena’s court from “Dale Brown Court” to “Dale Brown-Sue Gunter Court” at Friday’s board meeting. Edwards appointed all 16 Board members.
A committee voted 6-2 on Friday in favor of adding Gunter’s name. A customary full board vote did not happen as that was expected to be 13-2. A general “Yay” passed adding Gunter’s name in the near future. The Board did not say when Gunter’s name would be added. It cost $11,500 to install “Dale Brown Court” over a year ago.
Never mind that just over a year ago on Jan. 4, 2022, LSU held a ceremony with Brown, friends, family, former players and LSU officials and unveiled “Dale Brown Court” before LSU beat Kentucky, 65-60.
LSU’s Board Just Voted For Dale Brown Court In 2021
Brown dined with LSU president William Tate and others at his restaurant in town, TJ Ribs, before the game. On Sept. 10 of 2021 at a Board meeting, Tate watched as the Board voted overwhelmingly at 12-3 in favor of “Dale Brown Court” and then voted overwhelmingly at 12-3 against a new motion for “Dale Brown-Sue Gunter Court.”
Brown, who is 87, directed LSU to two Final Fours and two Elite Eights from 1980-87, 13 NCAA Tournaments from 1979 through 1993, including 10 straight, and four Southeastern Conference regular season titles. That was third in titles to only Kentucky coaches Adolph Rupp and Joe B. Hall at the time Brown retired in 1997 with a 448-301 record. He finished his career with four straight losing seasons and left LSU on probation for the next coach.
DICK VITALE: UGLY POLITICS AT LSU
But none of the first four coaches who followed him have come close to duplicating his consistency in the NCAA Tournament. Only John Brady, who inherited the probation, reached a Final Four in 2006 and won multiple SEC titles.
Gunter, who died at 66 in 2005, took the Lady Tigers to 13 NCAA Tournaments from 1982-2003, but she never took LSU to a Final Four or won an SEC regular season title. Her LSU record was 428-217. Her last team in 2003-04 reached the Final Four and finished 27-8 under assistant coach Pokey Chatman. Gunter sat out the rest of the season after a 16-3 start with an illness and never returned. Chatman took LSU to two more Final Fours. Gunter was 428-217 at LSU.
She signed superstar Seimone Augustus away from Tennessee, and Augustus led LSU to three Final Fours. Gunter also had three losing seasons in the 1990s, including a 7-20 mark in 1995. She kept her job mainly because it did not matter to most fans whether the women’s team won or lost at the time.
Gunter is in the Naismith Hall of Fame as she was a successful coach at Middle Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin before LSU. Brown is in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. Both deserve honors. But the Board voted to honor Brown with the name of the court despite the arguments made to honor both.
And oh, there has been a Gunter statue in the Assembly Center since 2006. So why the court name, too?
Governor Edwards’ reason?
Women Pushing for Dale Brown Court Name Change
Governor Edwards is getting “hammered by the women,” multiple Board of Supervisors members have said.
The women are led by well-heeled Board of Supervisors member Mary Leach Werner. She is the wealthy daughter of the late Democrat politician Buddy Leach – a former U.S. representative and chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. The other two women are former LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux and Edwards’ wife, Donna Edwards.
“Sorry, I have no comment,” Breaux told OutKick Thursday.
Last November, Edwards invited five LSU Board of Supervisors members to the governor’s mansion for a splendid crawfish etouffee lunch, but there was more on the menu. Board chairperson Valencia Sarpy Jones attended along with other Board members Raymond Morris, Glenn Armentor, Robert Dampf and Collis Temple Jr.
At that meeting, sources say, Edwards told the five he wanted Gunter’s name added. One member who disagreed with Edwards’ wishes said Edwards “made it very clear what he wanted.”
OutKick asked a spokesman for Edwards why the governor got so involved with an LSU basketball court name, considering there are likely many other more important state pursuits to ponder and involve himself.
“I wouldn’t say he’s spent a lot of time or energy on it,” the spokesman said. “But he was asked his opinion and gave it.”
And he called a lunch meeting to push his opinion on five Board members, including the board chairperson.
Former Dale Brown Player Torn Over Court Name
Another member torn by the vote as of Thursday was Temple. He played on Brown’s first two LSU teams in 1972-73 and 1973-74 after becoming the first black basketball player in LSU history in the 1971-72 season under Press Maravich, the father of Pistol “Pete” Maravich, whom the arena is named after. Temple and Brown have been close friends for 50 years.
And Temple can be seen on a video dancing and raising a sign that says “Dale Brown Court” during the ceremony on Jan. 4, 2022.
“It’s really an emotional decision,” Temple, a successful Baton Rouge businessman, told OutKick on Thursday. “Probably one of the most challenging processes I’ve ever been faced with.”
Temple voted on Friday to keep it “Dale Brown Court” along with Armentor. For decades, Temple lobbied to have the court named after Brown. He agrees that a solution could be to name the women’s basketball practice facility after Gunter or a campus street after her.
“I think any time anybody can be honored with something like that, it’s a great thing,” Temple said. “I don’t know if that would be the solution, though.”
Asked why the Board would change what it just voted, Temple said, “We wouldn’t be taking coach Brown’s name off the court. If it happens, we’re adding a person’s name who spent 22 years here. It’s something to consider. I’m just one of 16 members. It has to be discussed.”
Keia Howell-Lane played for Gunter from 1994-98. She would vote to keep the name as is, if she had a vote.
“For someone who knew coach Gunter on a personal level, if the Board of Supervisors and people took the time to ask people who actually knew her as a person, I think that most would agree that she would not want any part of a controversy,” Howell-Lane told WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge recently. “And she wouldn’t want to tarnish what was done for coach Brown just one year ago.”
Dale Brown Felt Insulted By LSU President
Brown disagreed with the handling of all this. LSU president William Tate had lunch with Brown on on Oct. 31, 2022, at Brown’s TJ Ribs restaurant near the LSU campus. Temple was also there. Brown thought it was about his 87th birthday that day.
“You seem a little nervous,” Brown said to Tate, who had become friends with Brown since becoming LSU’s first black president in May of 2021.
Brown soon found out why. Brown had no comment for this story, but he did corroborate what Tate said.
“You’re really known as a great humanitarian, and this would really help to enhance your public image as a humanitarian if you were the one who decided to get out in front of this and be the one to announce that the basketball court will be changed to ‘Dale Brown-Sue Gunter Court,'” Tate said.
Brown became very upset and basically told him what he thought about his idea in colorful language. And Tate left the same restaurant in which he had dined with Brown nine months before on the night the court was named after Brown.
Multiple reporters have asked Tate for comment on the court name issue for weeks, but he did no interviews. Tate obviously does not know Dale Brown.
“If you spend too much time polishing your image, you’ll lose your character,” Brown often said when he was coaching.
“Dale was insulted,” Baton Rouge author Jeffrey Marx said. Marx is a close friend of Brown and has tried to block the court’s name change. “Dale doesn’t go around polishing his image anyway. The man is already a living, breathing state park.”
Brown also felt it was not his place to change what the Board of Supervisors had already passed, which is an excellent point.
Brown also felt used because he was. LSU had other reasons for the name change that was anything but humanitarian.
LSU Has Other Reasons For Name Change
What Tate didn’t mention to Brown was that LSU desperately wants to improve its poor Title IX image, and that is a major reason for the desire to add Gunter’s name to “Dale Brown Court,” several sources have said.
LSU has been under a federal Title IX investigation for several years concerning its treatment of female students and female employees. Former LSU football recruiting assistant athletic director Sharon Lewis’ $50 million Title IX lawsuit is scheduled for May 22. A former student’s Title IX lawsuit is scheduled for June 26.
LSU continues to reel from the investigative firm Husch Blackwell’s findings concerning rape and sexual assault accusations against LSU football players since 2016.
So, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward and others in the athletic department and Tate and others at LSU, according to sources, want to basically say:
“Hey, look at us, we’re all for women! Why, we just added a women’s name to a basketball court named after a man. Please be easy on us with these Title IX hearings, and of course, any funding that may entail. Oh, and have you seen our new Seimone Augustus statue?”
So, it’s not about the women of LSU. It’s about protecting the men’s poor Title IX reputation at LSU.
“LSU won’t be offering comment ahead of the board meeting,” Woodward spokesman Cody Worsham told OutKick on Thursday.
Trying to improve LSU’s Title IX poor image in such a cosmetic way is not a good idea anyway.
LSU’s Title IX reputation would be better if it had fired some of the people in the athletic department and at the university who looked the other way concerning the rape and sexual assault accusations against football players Derrius Guice and Drake Davis in recent years.
That’s how you improve your reputation.
LSU’s Court Strategy Is Dirty
LSU’s court move needs to be swept away. It’s dirty. Someone from LSU even circulated a pamphlet recently that added wins to Gunter’s record and took wins away from Brown. A prime example of Woke Gone Wild.
“I’m embarrassed for Louisiana that there is even a discussion of renaming the court a year later,” FOX Sports announcer Tim Brando told OutKick Thursday. A Shreveport native, Brandon covered Brown early in Brando’s career in the 1980s for WAFB Channel 9 in Baton Rouge before going to ESPN.
“The fact that it’s happening shows what a disgrace LSU people can be towards those we hold up as icons,” he said. “We’re the worst when it comes to public bloodlettings in politics and sports. It’s been true for generations. They’re squeezing this in before Edwards and the Board are all out before the next governor comes in with his new Board. Werner – what a cancer she is!”
Edwards leaves office next January.
Brown is one of LSU’s greatest sports icons. Pete Maravich put LSU on the map briefly. But Brown made LSU basketball an SEC and national player for the most part from 1978 through 1993, delighting sellouts with the likes of Chris Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal. The Maravich Assembly Center sold out or was close to that 255 times under Brown. Gunter had one sellout in her career.
Sue Gunter Is Deserving Of An Honor
Gunter was a great person. So is Dale. Gunter deserves her name on a street or the practice facility. Brown and Gunter on the court dilutes the honor for both. When compared with Brown as a coach, Gunter is not on Brown’s level, which is why someone associated with LSU doctored up the records of both coaches.
This vote Friday smells of political corruption as well.
Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office monitored the re-vote process for proper procedure, but had no comment Friday. Hmm, guess another Huey Long is still running the state, LSU and the Tigers.
But regardless of Friday’s outcome, in this space the floor at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center will always be “Dale Brown Court,” period.
Oh, and Brando contacted Republican U.S. Senator John Kennedy, who is very popular in Louisiana.
“Let me take it from here,” Kennedy told Brando. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”
But regardless of the outcome, the floor at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in this space will always be called “Dale Brown Court,” period.
One CommentLeave a Reply
Wonder what these women would think if the University of Tennessee decided to change their court name from “The Summitt” to add some random men’s coach’s name to it. You know, because equality