The former athletic director at LSU recommended the firing of coach Les Miles in 2013 — three years before he was dismissed — because of allegations of sexual advances on female students and comments about women in the athletic department that were sexist or insulting.
That information was included in the report of an investigation conducted by the outside law firm of Husch Blackwell, which was charged with reviewing how the university handled allegations of sexual misconduct in the athletic department. The reported was released Friday, with USA Today and ESPN publishing portions of it.
Husch Blackwell wasn’t hired to determine the guilt or innocence of Miles but rather to determine if LSU responded properly to reports of incidents involving the coach and female students working in the department.
“The issue is whether the University responded to this report against [Les Miles] in a manner consistent with then-existing legal guidance, well-recognized best practices, and institutional policy. The answer is ‘no,’ ” the investigation concluded.
Miles, 67, was the coach at LSU from 2005 until he was fired four games into the 2016 season, when the Tigers got off to a 2-2 start. LSU won the national championship in 2007 and was runner-up in 2011.
Miles is now the coach at Kansas, which has not yet commented on the most recent report. A school spokesman previously said Kansas officials weren’t aware of any of the sexual misconduct allegations when he was hired prior to the 2019 season.
Miles has denied all allegations of misconduct. His attorney, Peter Ginsberg, declined to comment to ESPN on Friday.
Witnesses cited in the report said Miles took part in interviewing young women who applied for jobs with the team beginning in 2012 and wanted them to be pretty, blonde and with certain physical attributes.
A separate report released Thursday included allegations of Miles sending text messages to young women, taking them to his condominium and making them feel uncomfortable in general. In one case, he is reported to have kissed a student and offered to take her to a hotel, all while telling her that he could assist her in her career.
Sharon Lewis, who worked as the director of recruiting, is quoted in the latest report as saying she reported “significant alleged misconduct” by Miles that took place beginning in 2009 and lasted until his departure. The Husch Blackwell report said her allegations were not properly investigated by the university.
Lewis recounted how a female student worker came to her “completely traumatized” about something that happened to her when she and Miles were alone. Lewis said the student repeatedly said, “You know what you did to me.”
At least two other young women came forward with their allegations, and a previous investigation in 2013 concluded Miles should be reprimanded but that his conduct did not rise to the level of sexual misconduct. The Husch Blackwell report disagreed.
Former athletic director Joe Alleva recommended Miles’ dismissal to F. King Alexander, then the incoming president of LSU, and the school’s legal team shortly after.
“I want us to think about which scenario is worse for LSU. Explaining why we let him go or explaining why we let him stay,” Alleva wrote in an email, which was included in the report released Friday. “I believe he is guilty of insubordination, inappropriate behavior, putting the university, athletic dept and football program at great risk. I think we have cause. I specifically told him not to text, call or be alone with any student workers and he obviously didn’t listen. I know there are many possible outcomes and much risk either way, but I believe it is in the best interest in the long run to make a break.”
Instead, Miles received a written reprimand, a requirement for counseling and a written order not to have contact with female student employees in person, on the phone or via text.
The report said LSU did not have appropriate staffing or resources in its Title IX office to investigate complaints. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in a school’s educational programs and other activities.
LSU interim president Tom Galligan Jr. vowed quick action on Friday, saying he plans to enact “every one of those 18 recommendations” that Husch Blackwell included in its report, per ESPN.
“We as an institution failed to live up to our commitments,” he said. “We let some of those who were depending on us down. It is clear our institution as a whole deserves blame. This is an example of serious institutional failure, but people also made mistakes we cannot ignore. That cannot and must not go unaddressed.”
Last week, The Advocate reported Miles had settled with at least one woman who accused him of sexual harassment. Reached then by the local newspaper, Miles said, “That’s not true.”
USA Today’s reporting on sexual misconduct within the athletic department at LSU caused the university to contract with Husch Blackwell to audit roughly 60 sexual misconduct cases from 2016 to 2018.
Miles had a 114-34 record at LSU. He is 3-18 at Kansas.
–Field Level Media