HOUSTON - Texas Southern University announced last week that President Dr. Austin Lane was placed on administrative leave with pay.
FOX 26 has learned that officials with the TSU's Board of Regents and law enforcement are conducting multileveled investigations: one internal and the other an external criminal investigation.
Those areas include admissions, enrollment, financial aid, scholarship protocols and standards.
According to a statement from the school, Dr. Lane was informed that members of the TSU board, Chief Internal Auditor and external Board Counsel had been in contact with law enforcement due to confirmed improprieties in the admissions process at the school. At least one admissions university employee was terminated.
Dr. Lane, who maintains that he has done nothing wrong, was interviewed on multiple occasions during this investigation before being placed on leave.
The following is the official statement from the school:
On behalf of the Texas Southern University Board of Regents, we want to provide our community with an update about our recent decision to place TSU President Dr. Austin A. Lane on paid administrative leave. We are sharing this information while remaining mindful and respectful of the ongoing investigatory process and for all of the parties involved.
On January 10, 2020, the Board of Regents met with the Chief Internal Auditor, independent counsel, and third-party investigators for approximately seven hours. The Audit Committee made a public recommendation to the full Board, and consistent with the Audit Committee’s recommendation, in a seven to one vote (one abstention), the Board of Regents placed Dr. Lane on paid administrative leave.
The Chief Internal Auditor's investigation goes back over three months. The investigation into admissions and our review of enrollment, financial aid, scholarship protocols and standards for all University colleges are important to maintaining the integrity of our institution. Our students and alumni worked hard to get here, and deserve our best efforts to protect Texas Southern for now and for the future. Indeed, that is why the Board and the Chief Internal Auditor are cooperating with law enforcement officials who are conducting their own investigations.
In October of 2019, members of the Board of Regents informed Dr. Lane that members of the Board, the Chief Internal Auditor and external Board Counsel had been in contact with local law enforcement given the confirmation of the improprieties in the admissions process. One University employee involved in the admissions process had already been terminated.
The Chief Internal Auditor, in collaboration with a third-party investigator, Special Board Employment Counsel, and/or external Board Counsel interviewed the executive management – including Dr. Lane – and others at our University. On two separate, subsequent occasions Dr. Lane was invited to meet with the Board of Regents at two Special Called meetings. Dr. Lane was then interviewed a second time by the Chief Internal Auditor and Special Board Employment Counsel.
On January 10, 2020, the Board placed Dr. Lane on paid administrative leave, and named Kenneth Huewitt acting President. As the investigation continues, we urge everyone in our TSU community to comply with University policies and internal audit and litigation risk management protocols; and we will continue to cooperate with the independent investigations by law enforcement. As we said in November, the University's academic integrity, trust of students, faculty, alumni and the public at large are of utmost importance.