The career of Kansas football coach Les Miles is over. The window dressing of how his departure will be framed – firing, stepping down or mutual parting of ways – still has to be hashed out. But those are just semantics after Kansas placed its embattled coach on administrative leave Friday evening.
The reality of the allegations during Miles’ tenure at LSU and that school’s administrative enabling is clear now: Miles is well on his way toward losing both his job and reputation.
A flurry of revolting allegations emerged in the 262-page report released by the Husch Blackwell law firm Friday. They reveal a pattern of alleged boorish behavior that should make it impossible for Kansas to continue to employ Miles. It’s hard to imagine Miles working in any significant capacity in football again.
Miles, 67, didn’t show up for work Friday at Kansas, sources told Yahoo Sports. It would be a Kansas-beats-Alabama caliber upset if he’s still the coach when the 2021 season kicks off.
Even a place with such infamous selective administrative ethics as Kansas can’t find a way to look past the allegations that emerged against Miles the past few days – harassing student workers, persistent sexist behavior and ignoring pleas to stop such behavior from his athletic director.
Miles’ name appears in the Husch Blackwell report 51 times, and many are cringe-worthy. The real question is how he was ever allowed to continue at LSU when these allegations were raised back in 2013.
The only people who look worse than Miles are the administrators and higher ups at LSU who allowed him to keep coaching there. That came against the recommendation of then-athletic director Joe Alleva, who found Miles’ behavior to be “insubordination” and “inappropriate” and suggested the school “make a break” and fire Miles. Clearly, he was bracing for a day like today when Miles’ conduct became public.
Consider the allegations against Miles that occurred during his time there:
“After losing the 2012 National Championship game, Miles attempted to sexualize the staff of student workers in the football program by, for instance, allegedly demanding that he wanted 'blondes with the big boobs' and 'pretty girls.' According to (Sharon) Lewis, he also allegedly took a more direct role in the hiring of those student workers.”
“In her interview, Lewis stated that around this time her ‘worst nightmare happened’ when an Athletics Department student worker (“Student 1”) came to her ‘very upset about something that happened when she was alone with Coach Miles.’ According to Lewis, Student 1 requested her assistance in confronting Miles regarding the allegations. Another longtime Football Operations employee was present for the meeting and recalled, from her perspective, that Student 1 was ‘completely traumatized’ by the alleged incident: ‘This child had a dead stare ... she just kept saying, over and over, ‘You know what you did to me.’ Sharon Lewis echoed this, describing the interaction between Student 1 as ‘emotional’ and ‘traumatic.’ ”
"(In) February 2013, a second student worker (identified as 'Student 2') "[r]eported inappropriate contact and text messages with Miles” to Lewis, which were documented in her communications to Human Resources."
“At least three witnesses recalled Miles labelling the student workers as ‘a.m. and p.m. girls’ — a designation which Miles also openly gave to female full-time Football Operations staff. Several other employees recalled Miles referring to the student workers as looking like a 'bad bowling team.' Employees interviewed as part of Husch Blackwell’s review stated that 'only certain ones were allowed to be in the head coach’s office, not everyone. And most of them were either blonde, they were all attractive, but most of them that came through here were blonde.' ”
"Another individual recalled Miles saying ‘many times,’ ‘I want the blondes not the brunettes working in this office.’ As one witness explained, ‘It makes me want to vomit, because it was kind of that every year it got a little worse and a little worse and for a while, after a while it almost became normal that we can’t hire anybody that’s fat and ugly.’ "
Miles didn’t return calls seeking comment from Yahoo Sports, but the report states: “Miles has denied all allegations of misconduct, and we are not in a position to offer an opinion on whether the allegations against him are true or not.”
These are just some of the allegations that emerged Friday. They don’t include the allegations from Thursday, where Les Miles was accused of kissing, hitting on and offering a trip to his condo to female workers in an internal report released by LSU. Miles also denied those and LSU chose not to discipline him at the time. But a pattern has emerged enough where Les Miles clearly attempted to abuse his power and didn’t have the self-awareness to alter his behavior when called out on it.
The lesson of the imminent downfall of Les Miles is that universities will endure egregious amounts of ethical gymnastics to keep a powerful coach. And the shame is the human toll described in order to enable Miles. The LSU report shows that the school president covered his ears and ignored powerful allegations in order to keep the stands filled, the recruits rolling in and the donations flowing. It’s administrative negligence of the highest form.
It’s hard to imagine anything similar happening at Kansas, and that’s mostly because Miles is 3-18. The biggest industry question about the future at Kansas is whether athletic director Jeff Long will be the one to hire Miles’ replacement.
Long’s hiring of Miles will go down as one of the worst administrative decisions in college athletics in recent history. Not only was Miles a predictable disaster on the field, but Long was so infatuated with him that he basically didn’t run a real search. He was more focused on the buzz from the reality show that went along with Miles’ hire.
Long clearly didn’t do enough background work, either, as any measure of due diligence with LSU would have likely signaled to avoid Miles. Whatever Long did clearly wasn’t enough.
Kansas’ brass now has to make a long-term decision on Long in short order. If they fire Long, they’d owe him the more than $3 million remaining on his contract. (It’s hard to imagine Miles getting paid from Kansas considering he did not disclose the LSU issues.)
If Kansas keeps Long, they’d have to then keep him for a very long time, as his contract states that he’ll be extended the same amount of years that Kansas receives in probation from the looming NCAA basketball cases.
That should be at least three years, so Kansas officials may just cut bait now instead of getting locked in for a few more million. (Plus, it’s safe to say that Long and basketball coach Bill Self aren’t exactly vacationing together.)
Regardless of the future for Kansas, the present is very bad. All they can do is attempt to mitigate the reputational damage. For Les Miles, that ship has sailed. His alleged actions from his time at LSU have caught up to him, and there’s no path to escape the comeuppance that’s coming.
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