More allegations surfaced on Friday that University of Kansas football coach Les Miles “attempted to sexualize” football student employees when he was the head coach at LSU, and KU Athletic Director Jeff Long placed Miles on administrative leave.
Long announced the move Friday evening, several hours after LSU released a Title IX review by law firm Husch Blackwell during its board of supervisors meeting.
According to a statement from Long, KU will conduct “a full review” of that and another LSU internal investigation from 2013 released on Thursday that included allegations that Miles kissed a female student employee.
The extensive LSU Title IX review released on Friday includes comments from an LSU athletic department employee, Sharon Lewis, in May of 2019 that describe alleged misconduct by Miles. According to the report, Lewis alleged that after LSU lost the 2012 national title game, Miles “attempted to sexualize” the football program’s student staff, allegedly stating he wanted “blondes with the big boobs” and “pretty girls.” Husch Blackwell reported that Lewis’ account was corroborated by several witnesses during its review.
According to Long, KU didn’t have access to either report from the past two days until they were made public.
“Even though the allegations against him occurred at LSU, we take these matters very seriously at KU,” Long said in a release. “Now that we have access to this information, we will take the coming days to fully review the material and to see if any additional information is available. I do not want to speculate on a timeline for our review because it is imperative we do our due diligence. We will be able to comment further once our review is complete.”
According to the Husch Blackwell report, one LSU student employee in the football department was described as “completely traumatized” when asking Lewis for assistance in confronting Miles with allegations.
After that incident, the athletic department directed Miles to refrain from contact with student workers.
The report stated that Husch Blackwell was “not in a position to offer an opinion on whether the allegations against (Miles) are true or not.” Rather, the report said, the issue was that LSU didn’t respond to the allegations made against Miles in a manner consistent with “then-existing legal guidance” or recognized best practices.
At least three witnesses referenced in the report recalled Miles labeling student workers as “a.m. and p.m. girls” — a designation Miles reportedly openly gave to female football staffers. The report stated several other employees recalled Miles referring to the student workers as looking like a “bad bowling team.”
Husch Blackwell noted there was no record of reports of sex discrimination in LSU’s files, nor record of those reports being investigated.
Miles denied any inappropriate behavior, according to the report. Though Miles was deemed to have acted inappropriately by LSU, the extent of any punishment only included attending training.
Another part of the report revealed that then-LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva recommended Miles be fired for cause in 2013 following LSU’s internal investigation into the allegations. Alleva pointed to Miles’ “inappropriate behavior” and said he was putting LSU and the football program “at great risk.”
Long hired Miles to take over the struggling Kansas football program in November of 2018, a little more than two years after LSU fired Miles four games into the 2016 season. Miles signed a five-year contract with KU that could keep him in charge of the Jayhawks through the conclusion of the 2023 season.
The contract Miles signed with Kansas Athletics Inc. in November 2018 states that if Miles were fired without cause, he would be owed the remaining amount of his contract — which pays him $2.775 million per year.
The contract also identified a number of scenarios in which Miles could be fired with “just cause” — scenarios in which KU wouldn’t have to pay him a buyout.
Some areas that qualify as just cause include the coach’s participation in “any act, situation, or occurrence, or any conduct, which in (Kansas Athletics') judgement brings (Miles) and/or KU into public disrepute, embarrassment, contempt, or ridicule or any public or private comments that disparage KU or Athletics, its personnel, programs, policies and/or departments, or that case damage to KU’s reputation.”
As previously reported by The Advocate, Miles reached a settlement with one student who made allegations against him.
Lewis, as described in the report, became distressed by the lack of support from LSU’s administration and alleged that Miles and other LSU athletics staff members became hostile toward her.
The Husch Blackwell report also said that Sports Illustrated published a story in 2013 about Miles’ Oklahoma State football program’s use of student hostesses. The SI article said that OSU’s so-called “Orange Pride” program emphasized attracting “prettier and more outgoing women.” More than a dozen former OSU players told SI a small number of “Orange Pride” members had sexual relations with players during recruiting visits. Miles said at the time of the SI report that he wasn’t aware of recruits sleeping with student hostesses.
LSU hired the Husch Blackwell law firm to investigate how the university’s administration and employees had mishandled instances of sexual misconduct and sexual violence in recent years, after USA Today’s reporting on several such instances came out in November 2020.
Scott D. Schneider, from Husch Blackwell, joined the board of supervisors meeting via Zoom to present the findings and said the 150-page document “doesn’t hold any punches.”
The Husch Blackwell report became public a day after LSU released an internal investigative report on Miles’ behavior that was conducted in 2013. That investigation revealed that LSU reprimanded Miles after a female student employee in the athletic department alleged that Miles kissed her and suggested they visit a hotel together, USA Today reported.
The 2013 report revealed that LSU ordered Miles to stop texting, calling and being alone with student employees.
Miles denied the various allegations, including kissing the woman, at the time, and an attorney for Miles on Thursday reiterated that Miles denied any wrongdoing, USA Today reported.
According to the investigation, Miles’ behavior was found inappropriate; however, the law firm did not determine that Miles had a sexual relationship with any of the women who made allegations. The law firm that conducted the investigation said in its report that it wasn’t able to determine whether the allegation that Miles kissed a student was true. The woman alleges that Miles kissed her twice while they were driving in his car.
Miles coached LSU from 2005 to 2016, winning the 2007 national title.