ASU President: 'It deals with fraud and conflict of interests'

ASU President Dr. Joseph Silver sits down to speak with WSFA 12 News anchor Sally Pitts at his Montgomery home.
ASU President Dr. Joseph Silver sits down to speak with WSFA 12 News anchor Sally Pitts at his Montgomery home.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Embattled Alabama State University President Dr. Joseph H. Silver sat down for a second, exclusive interview with WSFA 12 News Tuesday. The interview took place at his home in Montgomery.

Silver, who is on paid administrative leave, would only say Monday evening that he'd stumbled on "something" and was told to back off. During Tuesday's interview, he said his concerns dealt with fraud and conflicts of interest at Alabama State, but still would not provide details.

During a news conference Tuesday morning, ASU Executive Vice President John Knight called on Silver to come forward with any evidence or wrong doing that he may have uncovered.

He "knows exactly where I am going with this..." Silver said of Knight, the man he maintains he relieved of his duties Monday. Knight refutes he was ever fired by Silver. "The truth will come out in the end," Silver promised.

Silver says he has documented proof of Knight's insubordination and was standing in front of him when he received the email telling him he was being fired.

Silver did not provide any evidence or specifics about his allegations, but added there is a process to follow. He assured that he would release details in due time. "It will take a forensic accountant to figure it all out," he explained.

Knight, along with Dr. Freddie Gallot, Vice President of Business and Finance at ASU, said Tuesday that they haven't heard any allegations of illegal action regarding the university's finances and say the books are open for review.

WSFA 12 News went to ASU Tuesday afternoon on reports that documents being shredded, but could not confirm any were being destroyed. Campus officials were adamant that nothing was being destroyed.

Dr. Silver said he informed the Board of Trustees of his plans to hire an independent investigator to look into ASU contracts. He says he was told not to go forward with the plan, but when he did, the board acted to remove him from his position.

"Access to my office has been denied," Silver said. "I'm sure that one can read between the lines." Silver's email account is also shutdown.

Silver wasn't the only person shut out of their office. Two other ASU employees were also put on administrative leave Tuesday. Those include Vice President Ed Patrick and President Silver's assistant, Joyce Outler.

Knight, who also holds an elected position in the Alabama legislature, is serving in Silver's place regarding day-to-day operations of the University.

The full ASU Board of Trustees is expected to make a decision on Dr. Silver's future at the university. Governor Robert Bentley, who serves as the head of the board, has requested any meeting regarding Silver's future be delayed until he returns to the United States.

Regardless of what happens, Silver insists nothing is going to keep him quiet. "I don't owe anybody but the students, the faculty, the staff and the community," he said.

While the wait of an official answer from the Board looms, ASU students are already speaking out in support of Dr. Silver, attending meetings, creating a Twitter hashtag, and planning campus protests.

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