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How on Earth Did LSU Not Fire Les Miles After the 2013 Investigation in Sexual Harassment?

Ryan Phillips
Mar 4, 2021, 5:30 PM EST
Les Miles, Mississippi State v LSU
Les Miles, Mississippi State v LSU | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
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Les Miles should have been fired by LSU in 2013. That's the lesson everyone should take from USA Today's stunning report released on Thursday. According to an internal investigation done by an outside law firm on behalf of LSU, Miles was accused of making sexist comments about student workers and sexually harassing them. Somehow, he kept his job until 2016 when he was fired after a 2-2 start to the season.

In January, USA Today sued LSU for a copy of the investigation report and eventually won its court case. The paper learned about the existence of the investigation through interviews with "three people who were in a position to know about it" and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Miles investigation is part of a larger story USA Today has been pursuing uncovering "widespread mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations by LSU's athletic department and broader administration."

The details of what was uncovered about Miles should have been enough to get him fired, but it wasn't. At the time it was conducted, Miles was a wildly-successful head coach with a record of 85-21 at LSU with two SEC titles, a national championship and two championship game appearances under his belt. His program was a recruiting juggernaut and found itself in the national title conversation almost every year. Apparently that was enough to convince LSU to keep him around despite his serious, troubling misconduct.

Here's the crux of what was uncovered:

"At the height of his fame as Louisiana State University’s head football coach, Les Miles was accused of texting female students, taking them to his condo alone, making them feel uncomfortable and, on at least one occasion, kissing a student and suggesting they go to a hotel after telling her he could help her career, according to an internal investigative report released by LSU on Thursday."

Miles denied actually kissing the student and instead claimed he was solely trying to help her career. She had a different story:

"They texted each other and arranged for a time to meet again. At some point, the two met off campus and she got into his car and drove around. During the ride, the student told investigators, Miles suggested “that they go to a hotel together and mentioned his condo as another meeting place. He also complimented her on her appearance and said he was attracted to her.”"

The investigation was not able to determine if he had sexual relationships with any of the women, but found his behavior inappropriate. Obviously.

The report also concluded that Miles said wildly inappropriate things about female student workers:

"Miles also was accused by athletic department staff of saying that the female student workers who helped the football team lure top recruits needed to be attractive, blonde and fit, according to the investigative report. Existing student employees who did not meet this criteria should be given fewer hours or terminated, the report details."

Miles and LSU took steps to ensure the report remained secret and his only punishment was being banned from contacting female students. Geaux Tigers!

The fact that the university didn't immediately fire its head coach for being wildly inappropriate with female students is staggering. Let's be real, if Miles had been a professor doing the same things, he would have been fired and publicly disgraced for his conduct. Instead, the report was buried and he continued to make millions because he was the university's head football coach.

In 2013, protecting the football program was clearly more important to LSU than protecting female students and staff.

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