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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Jeff Long out as KU athletic director amid fallout from football coach’s departure

University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long is pictured in this Feb. 2, 2019, file photo.

University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long is pictured in this Feb. 2, 2019, file photo.

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Less than 24 hours after Jeff Long fielded questions in a press conference about what went wrong with his hiring of football coach Les Miles, the University of Kansas and the athletic director jointly announced Wednesday he was stepping down.

Long came under fire in recent weeks for his vetting and hiring of Miles, as sexual harassment allegations from years past involving the former LSU football coach came to light.

In separate letters published by KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and Long, the two sides described Long’s departure as the AD stepping down. Long said in his letter that he and Girod met Monday night and agreed on the change in leadership.

“It is not easy, but I leave KU with a heavy heart and profound confidence that I have always acted in the best interests of Kansas Athletics,” Long said. “I have done everything in my control to move Kansas Athletics forward in a positive manner, that’s what makes this most difficult.”

Letter from Chancellor Girod

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod sent a letter to all KU staff today announcing the change in leadership within Kansas Athletics.

Letter from Jeff Long

Former KU Athletic Director Jeff Long also shared some parting words on KU's website while announcing his resignation on Wednesday.

Girod said KU’s next permanent athletic director would determine the next steps in KU’s search for Miles’ replacement.

Long’s five-year contract with Kansas Athletics Inc., signed in 2018, paid him $1.5 million a year. The deal included buyout language that stated KU would pay him the remainder of his guaranteed salary on the five-year deal if he were fired without cause. However, a separation agreement between Kansas Athletics Inc. and Long, published Wednesday, showed that KU agreed to pay him through the end of this month, plus settlement payments totaling $1.375 million.

Girod also announced that Kurt Watson, a KU alumnus and prominent donor, would serve as KU’s interim AD, and he said he was confident Watson “will provide strong leadership and stability during this transition.”

Watson is a longtime financial executive from the Wichita area. He retired in 2017 as president and chief operating officer of IMA Financial Group, an 800-employee insurance and financial services firm. Watson also has served as an executive with Emprise Bank, among other institutions, and is a past co-chair of a $1.6 billion capital campaign for KU that concluded in 2016.

KU's search for its next AD will begin immediately, Girod said. He said he would lead that process, while also making use of a search firm and a group of four alumni advisers: Linda Ellis Sims, Ray Evans, John Ballard and former KU basketball player Wayne Simien.

“Each of these loyal Jayhawks will bring tremendous expertise and passion to the search, and I know their counsel will benefit the process,” Girod said. “We will move quickly but judiciously, and my hope is to have a new athletics director in place within the next few weeks.”

The list of candidates for the now-open AD job will take shape in the weeks ahead. One name that has been floated on social media is Danny Manning, and he told the Journal-World on Wednesday that he was at least interested in learning more about the position. 

"Yes sir," Manning said in a text on Wednesday afternoon. 

Manning, who has been the head coach at Tulsa (2012-14) and Wake Forest (2014-20) since leaving Bill Self's basketball staff at Kansas, spent much of the current college basketball season doing studio work for various television broadcasts of college basketball games. 

In the wake of Long’s departure, KU also released a statement from Self.

“This has certainly been a challenging time for all of us who love KU, and I recognize that change can be difficult," Self said. "Jeff and I enjoyed a good working relationship and I wish him well in all of his future endeavors. I have the utmost trust and respect for Chancellor Girod and I am confident that he will find us a tremendous new leader of our athletics program.”

Girod also addressed the limbo that the KU football players find themselves in at this juncture, with the future leadership of the program up in the air. The chancellor said he understood the players were eager to know who the next head coach would be.

“But we are making longterm decisions on an athletics director and a football coach, and we cannot sacrifice the quality of a search simply for expediency,” Girod said.

Long's football coaching hire in 2018 ultimately brought negative publicity to the program and university when details of LSU’s investigations of alleged sexual harassment by Miles were made public. On Tuesday, Long said KU performed its “due diligence” by speaking with people within LSU’s athletic department to find out if there were any situations KU needed to be aware of “and we received no indications of any issues.”

Miles' attorney Peter Ginsberg, however, has said KU was provided with "significant information" about the 2013 reports from LSU before they were made public.

Some also questioned how thorough Long's coaching search was. In March 2020, depositions from former KU football coach David Beaty’s court battle with Kansas Athletics Inc. over his buyout money included some questions for Long about his hiring of Miles and the ESPN+ online series “Miles To Go,” which in part documented portions of the search for Beaty’s replacement.

In those documents, Long says he can't remember by name some of the candidates he interviewed for the head coach job in 2018. Long provided the name of Todd Graham (then the head coach at Arizona State) before going into other candidates: “And then there was the gentleman — and again, I’m struggling with his name. He was working with the LA Rams at the time… it’s not coming to me.” Long apparently was referencing then-Rams offensive assistant Jedd Fisch. Long then also forgot the name of the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo. He said he interviewed those three candidates and Miles in person.

KU signed Long in the summer of 2018 to a five-year contract with hopes that the new AD would play a major role in turning around the long-struggling football program.

In his farewell statement, penned two years and eight months after he officially took over as KU’s athletic director, Long said it became clear to him that if he remained in the job at this point, he would be a “distraction” to the athletes, coaches and staff.

“Even though this is extremely difficult for me, this is what is best for KU, for me and for my family, and I am at peace with this decision,” Long said.

Comments

Adam Bengtson 1 month ago

Can someone name 1 thing the last 3 Athletic Directors have done for the University of Kansas? Why have one?

Lucas Town 1 month ago

You make a good point, if hiring committees can locate, interview and recommend coaches for hire. Why have an AD on the payroll?

Dale Rogers 1 month ago

The AD does a whole lot more than hire and fire. He is the CEO of a department with significant amounts of staff. He has to set the tone, set the direction, make sure everyone is doing their jobs to meet the set goals, etc. Asking why have an AD is like asking why have a department head in a major corporation. not having one ends up in chaos.

Brian Wilson 1 month ago

You're kidding us right. Set the tone? Set the direction? Make sure everyone is doing their job? and that they are meeting their goals. I wish I had a high paying job like that! Paid to do nothing but tell other people what to do.

No, seriously though. I could be wrong but the AD does three things. The hiring and firing coaches and staff while being accountable for their success, their integrity and adherence to NCAA guidelines. Then overseeing the coordination of the enitre department, including markieting, ticketing, facilities and other staff to make sure they and are also in compliance with NCAA rules and standards and that everything is running smoothly. Finally the big one: FUNDRAISING! If you can't smooze and bring in money and donors then your not qualified to do the job

Bryce Landon 1 month ago

KU's three ADs have turned the football program into a bigger lolcow than it was before.

Layne Pierce 1 month ago

Right. Why don't we just drop football, and take up ice hockey instead, and men's volleyball. We sure as hell couldn't do much worse. The football stadium can be turned into a park with Potter's Lake right in the middle of it, oh so beautiful.

But maybe you've got something there, if ADs don't really matter, then let's get a top notch coach, who will also be paid for being AD. The Asst Ad can do all the rest of the work.

What do you say Adam?

RCJH

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 month ago

Danny Manning could be our AD and big man coach. Win win!

Eric Brunner 1 month ago

Considering the legal troubles the athletic department will be facing for the next several years and the overall depleted morale of the fan/donor base, KU doesn't stand a chance to get the best available candidate....probably not even top 10. It's a wrap ya'll, prepare to see this same cycle repeat for another decade or more.

Eric Brunner 1 month ago

Also, we named a major donor as our interim AD....say what?!?!?!

Keith Gellar 1 month ago

I suggest we make Bill Self the AD. Clearly no one cares about any of the other sports. Just make BS the AD and focus on BB. What happens to other sports is irrelevant.

Plus, given the chance to coach football, i don't think BS can do any worse than the past few coaches. Think about it - after the snap, QB runs the chop play and we throw a hail Mary. This is guaranteed to work 40% of the time every time.

Mike Hart 1 month ago

Probably the dumbest, most inane post I've read in some time. Congratulations for that...

Bob Strawn 1 month ago

Ku will attract quality A.D. candidates to run its $100 million department. Finding a quality football coach will be a much higher hurdle though.

Ross Hartley 1 month ago

I think this is a terrible move. Hire the search committee and get these boys a coach. Then if you must fire Long. He is NOT the priority.

Joe Black 1 month ago

We should hire Willie Jeffries as the next football coach. He has plenty of free time since he has been retired since 2001. He took South Carolina State to 7 bowl games (not quite as successful at Wichita State)

Maybe we should make a huge statement and hire Katie Sowers as head coach. She has NFL experience and is out of a job right now.

Joe Black 1 month ago

Oh did I mention she is from Hesston KS!

Mike Hart 1 month ago

How ignorant are you? The man is 84 years old... be SERIOUS!

Joe Black 1 month ago

Relax Mike. It was obviously a joke. How ignorant are you? Lighten up Francis.

Lance Hobson 1 month ago

So this is how it ends. Whatever happened to letting scandals blow over? This Miles thing was weak sauce and would have been forgotten the second March Madness began.

Mike Hart 1 month ago

Lance, you are a buffoon. I see integrity means ZERO to you. Miles is an antiquated douchebag. 13 losses in a row is hardly something to hang your hat on when confronted with his past. He's a liar on top of everything else. Take your $1.99MM, Les..and retire, you old dirtbag. I see you settlted for $6MM less than you were actually owed. Not guilty, I'm sure!

Dale Rogers 1 month ago

I have a profound respect for Danny Manning as a basketball player and coach. But, does he have the business acumen to succeed as an AD? That position requires a whole lot more business sense than it does athletic prowess. Just sayin'.

Chris Condren 1 month ago

Good. Now fire a bunch of his Associate and Assistant Athletic Directors. Clean out the old guard and start building a new culture at the KUAD.

Spencer Goff 1 month ago

Everybody in Arkansas, "We tried to tell you it was gonna be one of 'those' shows."

Brett McCabe 1 month ago

Dale, Danny played in the NBA for many years, he is a multi-millionaire, he’s coached at a high level and worked in Athletic Departments for many years. There is a broad group of associate ad’s who handle the nitty gritty. We don’t need a CFO.

What the AthDept needs, what we need, is a leader.

This program needs a miracle man and I know of a guy who has brought miracles to this program before.

No person in the country is as highly regarded by Jayhawks fans and Alums as Danny. No one even comes close. Certainly not Dollar Bill.

Hire Danny right now and this program will start to be whole again. It will return to being something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

Danny is the obvious, right, healing answer. He will put out the dumpster fire. Guide us through the upcoming penalties for Self’s cheating and get us a football coach.

We need one of the greatest Jayhawks ever. Right now.

Robert Brock 1 month ago

Don’t hire another Athletics Director - the position is nothing but quicksand. The Ministry of Failure...

Brendan Connolly 1 month ago

Call David Booth and tell him we need his help. He is connected in Chicago and had a good relationship with Theo Epstein. Theo Epstein ended the Red Sox curse and the Chicago Cubs curse and left the Cubs recently wanting to spend more time around his kids as they grew up. Pay him an obscene amount of money for a 5-10 year contract to be AD. Let him bring a professional atmosphere. Is it crazy? Yes, but do it.

Matthew Pyle 1 month ago

Ex Tampa Bay Bucs GM is a KU Alum. Go get him.

Mike Hart 1 month ago

His name if Mark Dominik for you playing at home. He was GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2013. He did such an amazing job that he has been out of football for the last 8 years. The Buccaneers were 28-52 with him at the GM helm.

Bill Pitcher 1 month ago

While we're at it, could we get rid of a few academic assistant chancellors and presidents, please?

Mallory Briggans 1 month ago

ahhhhh yes 2007-2008 seemed so long ago

The football and basketball teams combined for a 49- 4 record
The football team won the Orange Bowl and was ranked as high as number 2 and the basketball team won the national championship. .......

Oh well ......back to reality

Dale Kroening 1 month ago

Quit hiring these outsiders who have ZERO history with the university and never work out . Danny Manning or Kevin Prichard....

Bville Hawk 1 month ago

Let me get this straight: Les Miles was terminated because of unproven allegations against him over 8 years ago at his previous place of employment. These allegations were resolved privately to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Jeff Long is gone why???

My university and it's athletic department that I love and have supported financially and with service for almost 50 years has become a clown show. This stupid political correctness is going to destroy us all unless those in charge get some spine and stand up to the "woke" crowd.

Mike Hart 1 month ago

Bville Hawk: I see you have taken ZERO time to do your homework. Les Miles' allegations are anything but unproven. You have 6 female staffers of the LSU athletic department over a 4 year period stating that Miles either kissed, groped or invited them to his hotel room and/or condo. You have a myriad of LSU football admin staffers testifying about his impropriety. You have a law firm HIRED by LSU to investigate Miles who concluded that how he acted was improper, leading the LSU AD to recommend his firing in 2013 due to the sexual allegations and failure to abide by LSU telliing him to STOP texting female students / staffers... using a burner phone to do so... and for not complying with the AD banning of his 1-1 contact with female student staffers. You have Les Miles financially settling with one of his accusers out of court. The only person who claims innocence with respect to Les Miles is LES MILES. Either Les Miles is lying... or 6 females spanning 4 years are lying... along with the LSU AD.. .along with a myriad of LSU athetic department personnel. If that is not enough, you have Les Miles agreeing to be terminated for $1.99M... when contractually he is owed over $8MM.. Explain that, idiot.

Joe Black 1 month ago

Stop calling people idiots when you already have the market on that. I'm not saying Miles is innocent or guilty (not my job) but people settle out of court by paying money because it is cheaper a lot of times than having the attorney fees of a long drawn out process and the same is true of leaving somewhere with a settlement instead of the full contract. This is not proof of guilt, idiot. Now it does appears most of the rest of the information you stated from LSU is pretty damning.

Bville Hawk 1 month ago

Mike, nothing is "proven" until a judge or jury makes a determination, so I stand by my original statements.

Armen Kurdian 1 month ago

If Miles had just let folks know about the allegations before his hire, none of this would have happened. Now we have a fired coach, resigned AD, OBTW, there's a cloud hanging over basketball (completely unwarranted, but it's there)....

This is not good for the University whatsoever. I'm almost thinking we hire internally for head coach at this point. We have paid so much money in buyouts over the last 10 years, we can't afford it anymore.

Twelve years, and we are no further along than we were after we wrongly fired Mangino. Folks are going to write books about this. And it won't be pretty.

Mike Hart 1 month ago

Cloud hanging over KU basketball is UNWARRANTED?!? Really? Basis what, exactly. You have Coach Townsend in response to Adidas stating that a recruit wanting cash in his pocket, employment for his father... and housing accomdations... stating "If that is what it takes to get him here for 9 months, then we are doing to have to find some way to do that". This on top of Self asking Adidas "We good?" via text message in response to the DeSousa fiasco. KU BBall deserves EVERY BIT of punishment that the NCAA hands down. I don't give a rat's ass what other Universities are doing. I do NOT want KU to win this way. Unwarranted?? How can you possibly say that? There is every indication that KU was willing to break the rules and do what it takes to garner recruits. What evidence is there that contradicts this? Mindboggling ignorance... and the utlimate in viewing facts with rose-colored glasses.

Joe Black 1 month ago

Once again you have misquoted and taken things out of context to make them seem worse. I KU offered all that to "the recruit" then why did he go to Duke? Because they didn't offer him that package. Yet no one is raising a ruckus about Duke? Why? Oh, yeah they did an internal investigations and found no wrong doing.

Austin Lopez 1 month ago

I knew his time was up the way he got on that press conference and was choking on his own words and talking nervous as ever.

Randy Bombardier 1 month ago

Oh great. Now we have two revolving doors.

Ross Hartley 1 month ago

Mike Hart, should we then fire HCBS and dismantle the Williams Fund?

Rodney Schulz 1 month ago

Let me get this straight. Some of those commenting want to take a failed basketball coach with nothing but a Podunk journalism degree from Podunk KU and make him the head of a multi deca million dollar athletic program? That has got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in quite some time.

Brad Watson 1 month ago

Embarrassing to say the least....Les 'no fire in the belly"Miles...gets canned...Jeff Long?...What a head scratcher.....where do go from here?....Nolan Cromwell....would you please come back here and coach this team!.

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