Kansas insists it vetted ex-LSU coach Les Miles properly with no red flags on hiring background checks

Kansas found no red flags with Les Miles during what it claims were extensive background checks prior to his hiring in 2018, school sources told CBS Sports. Those sources defended KU’s vetting of Miles, who is currently on administrative leave after an LSU investigation that found allegations of sexual harassment by two women became public knowledge.

“We did background checks. We did all of those kinds of things,” said a high-ranking school official who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the proceedings and Kansas’ ongoing investigation. “We talked to people about Les and what he was doing. No one gave any indication of this. No investigations, no reports, no nothing. Zero.”

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long released a statement Friday noting this is the first time the athletic department had “access” to both an LSU in-house report and a third-party investigation detailing allegations against Miles.

Miles would not have been hired if there was any “inkling” of the information contained in the reports, school sources told CBS Sports.

Long and Miles became close when they were together at Michigan from 1988-94. During that time, Miles coached the offensive line under Bo Schembechler, while Long was an associate AD until 1998.

“[Long] did not hire him because he is a friend,” said a Kansas source, which insisted it was Miles’ coaching ability that made him the top candidate for the Jayhawks.

Those same Kansas sources pushed back against the assertion of Peter Ginsberg, Miles’ attorney, who claims KU knew more about Miles’ actions than it indicated. Ginsberg wrote that Kansas had been provided “significant information” about an investigation regarding Miles.

“That was disappointing,” a Kansas source said of Ginsburg’s statement. “He put out a misleading comment in his statement.”

USA Today sued to get LSU’s in-house report, which had not been made public until last week.

Two female students who worked for the football program in 2013 accused Miles of sexual harassment. One said Miles kissed her twice. Miles denies that accusation. Miles’ camp has stressed he broke no laws.

Following the accusations, LSU reprimanded Miles and compelled him to attend counseling sessions.

As both LSU reports were being released last week, Miles was questioned by administrative and legal officials at Kansas. He is being paid while on administrative leave.

KU is not aware of any similar issues to those alleged at LSU in the Kansas’ football office, sources tell CBS Sports.

Kansas legal officials were still pouring through that independent Husch Blackwell report as of Saturday night. No timeline has been provided as when Kansas may act.

“Initial blush, it is not good,” said a source within the Big 12 familiar with Kansas’ current process.

There have been calls from some for Miles to be fired. Others believe there should be scrutiny focused on Long and the hiring process.

In the Husch Blackwell report, former LSU AD Joe Alleva recommended Miles be fired for cause in 2013 citing “insubordination, inappropriate behavior, putting the athletic dept and football program at great risk.”

A statement by a current LSU athletic official portrayed “significant alleged misconduct” by Miles from 2009-16. Sharon Lewis, currently an associate AD for football recruiting, said Miles “attempted to sexualize the staff of student workers” after LSU’s 2012 BCS Championship Game loss to Alabama. Miles, according to the report, wanted “blondes with big boobs” working in the football office. He has denied all allegations.

About the time Miles was finalizing an extension with LSU in 2013, Lewis said she encountered two female student workers who complained about the coach’s inappropriate behavior. An LSU lawyer concluded the woman’s complaints did not constitute sexual harassment “under applicable law.”

“We disagree,” Husch Blackwell wrote in its report.

The report also states Lewis became so distraught with lack of support from the LSU administration she had a “mental breakdown.” Upon her return to work, Lewis said Miles and other members of the athletic department were hostile toward her. That assertion was never followed up on by LSU, the report said.

Kansas officials were asked by CBS Sports whether, during the vetting process, Alleva could have told them anything about Miles’ alleged misdeeds that would not have compromised the school’s investigations.

“There were very few people who knew about it at LSU, and those people were bound by legal not to talk about it,” a Kansas source said.

There is no indication that Long’s authority will be diminished in the continued investigation of Miles by Kansas. In fact, Long’s contract contains language that it will be extended for each year Kansas is put on probation by the NCAA in football or basketball. That is significant because Kansas officials are hoping the current investigation into major violations in the basketball program concludes before next season.

Long signed a five-year, $7.5 million contract in 2018. He earned national respect when he fired Bobby Petrino at Arkansas in 2012 when the coach’s affair with office worker Jessica Dorrell became public. Long is in at least a similar situation with Miles with a different set of ethical allegations. Both highly successful coaches were hired by Long.

Whether Kansas fires Miles for cause could become a sticky situation. Miles is reportedly owed $8 million if he is not fired for cause. If Kansas cites violation of the contract terms as a cause, ethics is a gray area. All coaches’ contracts contain language regarding morals, ethics and putting the university in a negative light.

“Remember [contracts are] drafted that way to be intentionally vague,” said an attorney familiar with coaches’ contracts.

Miles’ contract defines “just cause” as “gross negligence, “discreditable conduct” as well as “any act, situation or occurrence, or any conduct which [Kansas view to have caused] public disrepute, embarrassment, contempt or ridicule,” according to 247Sports.

Long did not use a search firm in his effort to replace fired coach David Beaty. That is not unusual for ADs who want to expedite a search and keep a small circle of those with knowledge of the process. Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione famously conducted a one-man search that landed the Sooners hall of fame coach Bob Stoops.

Miles reached a previously unknown settlement with a former student at LSU who accused the coach of “hitting on her,” The Advocate reported last month. Miles told The Advocate he did not make inappropriate advances on the student.

Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord has taken over as Kansas’ de facto interim coach without the official title. Spring practice starts in a couple of weeks. Miles is 3-18 is two seasons at Kansas. 

Published: 2021-03-07 19:47:34

Tags: #Kansas #insists #vetted #exLSU #coach #Les #Miles #properly #red #flags #hiring #background #checks

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