Report: Ex-LSU AD wanted Les Miles fired amid sexual complaints involving student workers

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FILE – Kansas head coach Les Miles is shown before an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., in this Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, file photo. LSU’s former athletic director recommended in 2013 that Les Miles be fired as Tigers football coach because of his behavior with female student workers. Then-Athletic Director Joe Alleva’s recommendation to former LSU President F. King Alexander is detailed in a newly released report into how the university handled sexual misconduct complaints. The report was released Friday, March 5, 2021, by the Husch Blackwell law firm. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP) — Kansas placed coach Les Miles on administrative leave Friday night, hours after a report released by LSU revealed school officials there considered firing him in 2013 because of his behavior with female student workers.

“Even though the allegations against him occurred at LSU, we take these matters very seriously at KU,” Kansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “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.”

Miles is entering his third year as Kansas coach, and coming off a winless 2020 season. He was coach at LSU for 11-plus years before being fired four games into the 2016 season.

The 67-year-old Miles has denied allegations he made sexual advances toward students and has said he merely sought to serve as a mentor for students who expressed an interest in pursuing careers in sports.

Earlier in the day, LSU released a law firm’s 148-page review of how the university has handled sexual misconduct complaints.

Then-athletic director Joe Alleva’s 2013 recommendation to former LSU President F. King Alexander to fire Miles is detailed in the report by the Husch Blackwell law firm. The report offers a scathing view of the resources and attention LSU has dedicated to complaints of sexual misconduct and violence against women campus-wide.

LSU suspended executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry for 30 days and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar for 21 days. Both are suspended without pay and ordered to undergo sexual violence training.

Miles was investigated after two female student workers in LSU’s football program accused the coach of inappropriate behavior.

While that 2013 investigation by the Taylor Porter law firm found Miles showed poor judgment, it did not find violations of law or that he had a sexual relationship with any students. Taylor Porter also concluded it could not confirm one student’s allegation that Miles kissed her while they were in the coach’s car with no one else present.

Alleva recommended Miles be fired with cause. In an email dated June 2013, Alleva wrote Miles was guilty of “insubordination, inappropriate behavior, putting the university, athletic dept (cq) and football program at great risk.”

The Taylor Porter review had been kept confidential for about eight years until a redacted version of it was released this week after a lawsuit filed by USA Today.

Miles was hired by LSU in 2005 and won a national title in 2007.

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The Husch Blackwell report, which revisits the Miles investigation, also describes how the former coach “tried to sexualize the staff of student workers in the football program by, for instance, allegedly demanding that he wanted blondes with big breasts and ‘pretty girls.’”

Meanwhile, LSU has not fired any current employees whose conduct was criticized in the Husch Blackwell report.

Interim President Tom Galligan said during an LSU Board of Supervisors meeting Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that he sought to be fair in issuing discipline. Galligan stressed that the independent report concluded that failures in responding to sexual misconduct complaints at LSU stemmed largely from ambiguous policies and a lack of resources for “overburdened” employees tasked with handling such matters.

“People will be unhappy either way,” Galligan said of how the university chooses to discipline employees involved in the scandal.

Galligan then read an excerpt from the report stating that such employees “were not served well by the leadership of the university.”

Attorney Scott Schneider, who led the Husch Blackwell probe, said that while LSU does not have a monopoly on mishandling sexual misconduct cases, the university “has been very slow to develop policies and infrastructure and personnel that was really required” to ensure compliance with federal Title IX laws that deal broadly with gender equity in education, and which also apply to instances of sexual violence or harassment at educational institutions.

Schneider found that LSU leadership “responded in a lackluster fashion” when officials who handled Title IX compliance requested more resources.

“The university’s Title IX office was never staffed appropriately,” he said. “We’re not the first people to note that and flag this issue to the leadership of the university. It has been repeatedly addressed to the leadership of the university and seemingly nothing has been done to remedy it up until this point.”

The report said LSU’s failure to properly handle sexual assault complaints was campus-wide issue, and that allegations against athletes were treated no differently than those against non-athletes. However, Schneider noted that star athletes tend to have inherent leverage over their victims at schools where athletics are highly valued.

Victims are “understandably reluctant to participate in the Title IX process because they fear community backlash,” Schneider said.

Galligan offered public apologies to victims and said he intends to act on all 18 recommendations in the report on how to strengthen how the university handles sexual misconduct complaints campus-wide. Those recommendations called for everything from clarification of policies and protocols to increases in staffing and departmental reorganizations.“

LSU hired Husch Blackwell in November and agreed to pay up to $100,000 for an independent audit of hits handling of sexual misconduct complaints after reporting by USA Today scrutinized LSU’s handling of sexual assault cases implicating former football players Derrius Guice and Drake Davis.

Guice played for current football coach Ed Orgeron, but Schneider cautioned against blaming coaches for institutional failures in the handling of sexual misconduct complaints. Schneider’s recommendation is that only Title IX officials with expertise in such matters should handle such investigations and resulting discipline, while coaches should focus on coaching.

“You don’t want the coaches involved,” Schneider said. “What we want is athletics to be out of it entirely and allow the Title IX office to do its investigation.”

The meeting opened with a statement from former LSU student Caroline Schroeder, who informed the university that she was sexually assaulted by a fraternity member in 2016 and has described meeting official resistance as she sought to pursue her complaint.

“I’d like to express how little faith I have in this board to do the right thing today or in the months to come,” she said. “I genuinely hope that I’ve effectively insulted at least a few of you right now, because that insignificant and fleeting feeling that you’re experiencing in this particular moment is absolutely nothing in comparison to the persistent and often debilitating fear that survivors at LSU suffer on a daily basis as a direct result of your deliberate indifference to abuse on this campus.”

Peter Ginsberg, a New York-based attorney for Miles, released a statement Saturday:

The events of the past twenty-four hours are deeply disturbing. Eight years ago, LSU hired Taylor Porter, a preeminent law firm, to conduct an extensive and thorough investigation of allegations lodged at Les Miles. Under the guidance of one of the nation’s leaders in the area of gender discrimination and harassment, Taylor Porter concluded that Coach Miles did not engage in any conduct that constituted sexual harassment and that there were no grounds to discipline Coach Miles.

Now, eight years later, LSU, in the wake of enormous pressure from the NCAA for conduct that has nothing to do with Coach Miles, issued a report conducted by Husch Blackwell. The report revealed no new evidence. Indeed, Husch Blackwell did not even bother to interview Coach Miles or many other key witnesses but, instead, second-guessed the Taylor Porter findings and conclusions without providing any basis for doing so. Bending to the winds of media blowback, Kansas has now decided to put Coach Miles on administrative leave. Before the release of the reports this week, Kansas had been provided with significant information supporting Taylor Porter’s conclusions. KU also had performed thorough due diligence before hiring Coach Miles. Kansas’ decision to put Les Miles on administrative leave is both disturbing and unfair. To fail to recognize that a person’s career should not be compromised by unsubstantiated allegations hardly is consistent with the example an institution of higher learning should champion.

 Peter Ginsberg

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