HELENA, Mont. - The Montana State Senate did not confirm Pat Williams to the Montana University System Board of Regents.
After about 30 minutes of debate on the Senate Floor the vote came in 23 for Williams' confirmation and 26 against.
Senate Education Chairman Jim Peterson spoke first. He told the floor he was undecided on the vote and wondered if an apology letter Williams sent to him Thursday morning was too little too late.
"The question in everyone's mind now is can we now heal and go forward with this issue," Peterson said.
Many of the six senators who stood to speak in support of Williams urged the Senate not to base the decision on comments Williams made to the national media earlier this year, calling some University of Montana Grizzly football players 'thugs.'
"Pat has always talked straight," said Senator Mike Phillips, Bozeman (D). "He challenges assumptions and authority when needed and always strives to speak the truth."
Others called the comments inappropriate.
"He's a regent, a regent for goodness sake. That word means something," said Senator Dave Lewis, Helena (R). "You're supposed to have some great maturities and the ability to be thoughtful and careful in how you act and what you say."
In the end the 23-26 vote stands, Pat Williams will not serve on the Montana University System Board of Regents.
Below is Williams' note to Peterson.
The letter reads:
"Dear Chairman Peterson,
I appreciate our conversation and want to reiterate my regret about this controversy.
I regret that my words were so easily taken out of context and I am particularly sorry that they offended some of our fine students and their parents.
With best wishes,
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