Former Wisconsin college chancellor fired over porn career is fighting to keep his faculty post

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's top official has taken the first steps toward removing a faculty member who was earlier fired from his job as chancellor over his fledgling porn career.

The former chancellor, Joe Gow, said Wednesday that interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan filed three charges against him March 29, accusing him of unethical conduct, failing to cooperate with an investigation, and using UW-La Crosse computers to produce pornographic materials.

Gow declined to share a letter from Morgan detailing the charges, saying he didn't want to look as though he is trying to play out his case in the media.

But he said the ethics charge may be connected to his writings in two pornographic e-books. He declined to go into detail. The allegation of failure to cooperate stems from his refusal to speak to an outside law firm investigating the matter without an attorney, he said. He denied using any UW state-owned equipment or state dollars to produce porn.

Spokespeople from UW-La Crosse didn’t respond to emails Wednesday seeking comment and details of the charges. Mark Pitsch, a spokesperson for the UW system, declined to comment.

Gow said he has requested a hearing before a faculty committee, as is his right under state law. The committee would recommend to the Board of Regents, the UW system's governing body, whether he can keep his backup job as a tenured communications professor. The board would make the final decision on whether he can stay on.

The regents fired Gow from the chancellor post in December after learning he and his wife, former UW-La Crosse professor Carmen Wilson, were producing and starring in pornographic videos. They also wrote two e-books titled “Monogamy with Benefits: How Porn Enriches Our Relationship” and “Married with Benefits — Our Real-Life Adult Industry Adventures” under pseudonyms.

Gow had planned to retire as chancellor at the conclusion of the spring 2024 semester and transition into a role teaching communication courses. But Jay Rothman, president of the UW system, put that on hold until his tenure could be reviewed.

Gow has maintained he and his wife produced the pornographic materials on their own time. He insists that the videos and the books never mentioned UW-La Crosse or his role at the university and that the regents violated his free speech rights when they fired him.

The faculty committee hearing has yet to be scheduled, Gow said, but he is anxious to clear his name. Students have told him that they think he's a great person and that they're eager to take his courses, he said.

“It is really hard to be treated like a criminal when you haven't done anything wrong," Gow said. “I really am curious how the administration is going to prove I did anything wrong.”

The regents hired James Beeby, provost at New Hampshire's Keene State College, last month to succeed Gow as chancellor. Morgan was one of three finalists, along with Beeby and Indiana State University Provost Christopher Olsen.