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Les Miles Placed On Leave Amid Controversy

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Things aren’t looking good for the football coach’s future at KU.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that was at least somewhat expected, the University of Kansas announced Friday evening that head football coach Les Miles is being placed on administrative leave as the University conducts a full review of the recent allegations that have surfaced against him.

For those who haven’t been following the emerging story, earlier this week a 2013 investigation into Miles’ behavior while coaching at LSU came to light. An internal investigation was done in Baton Rogue at the time, though it was not made public until just a few days ago. The probe was launched amidst numerous allegations of misbehavior on Miles’ part, specifically his behavior around women in the athletic program, and allegations of sexual harassments lodged against him by multiple individuals. The allegations include contacting female staffers through various means to arrange meeting them off campus. Allegedly, he kissed at least one of these women.

The investigation included interviewing nearly 50 current and former LSU employees, students, and witnesses. According to the report, Miles allegedly participated in recruiting and interviewing female student employees, insisting they have a “certain look,” and encouraged reduced hours and even termination for female employees not meeting his standards of attractiveness.

While the findings did not conclude that any crimes had occurred, the pattern of behavior toward female students and employees clearly concerned then-Athletic Director Joe Alleva, who recommended that Miles be fired with cause. This is a somewhat surprising and strong indication of the effect the report had, as Miles had won a national title at the school and was coming off two seasons in which they went a combined 21-4.

Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said in Friday evening press release that “even though the allegations against him occurred at LSU, we take these matters very seriously at KU. Now that we have access to this information, we will take the coming days to fully review the material and 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.”

However, Long himself may be on the hot seat as well. Depositions in David Beaty’s lawsuit against KU revealed that Long intended to hire Les Miles from the beginning after Beaty’s dismissal, with Long struggling under oath to remember the names of anyone else that he interviewed for the position. He and Miles had a previous relationship from their time at Michigan, which leads to natural speculation that Long may have failed to do his “due diligence” in the hiring process that brought Miles to Kansas in the first place.

The allegations against Miles are serious, and it’s hard to believe that if USA Today was able to uncover these allegations, a thorough review of Miles’ past by a major athletic department with a substantial budget would have found no trace of them. Due to the long-standing relationship Long has with Miles and the evidence that he intended to hand Miles the job from the beginning, putting any decisions regarding Miles’ future in Jeff Long’s hands seems like a questionable proposition.

The behavior Miles exhibited at LSU, per the report, is reprehensive and reflective of a serious, deeper issue across college athletics in which male coaches and players are frequently given a pass for inappropriate behavior toward women. In some cases, like what is alleged here, or more famously at Baylor, there are active attempts to cover up such misconduct.

Though no similar allegations have been made of Miles since his hire at Kansas, continuing to employ Miles knowing what was unearthed of his time at LSU should simply not be an option. And Long, who brought Miles in with seemingly very little vetting involved, should be in the same boat. If Long and Miles are not dismissed from their positions at Kansas following this investigation, it will be an embarrassment to the University and the Athletic Department.

This is a chance for Kansas, as a prominent institution in Division One college athletics, to prove that they take inappropriate behavior toward women seriously. The only way to do that is to fire Les Miles and the man who failed to thoroughly vet him in bringing him to Lawrence, where there is an obvious possibility that such behavior could be continuing.