BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Former LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva recommended firing former Head Football Coach Les Miles in 2013 because of the coach’s alleged inappropriate contact with female students, an official investigation into the incident found.
At the time, Miles was accused of kissing a student, sending text messages to female students, and taking some of them to his off-campus condo alone. He denied kissing the student and has not been accused of any sexual relationships with any of them.
Alleva emailed top LSU officials in 2013, saying he specifically instructed Miles to “not text, call or be alone with any student workers and he obviously didn’t listen,” the investigation found. “I believe it is in the best interest in the long run to make a break,” Alleva said in the email.
Alleva said he believed the actions of Miles had put the university “at great risk,” the report says.
Despite that, Miles continued coaching for three additional years before being fired after a dismal 2-2 start of the 2016 football season, investigators said.
Investigators reviewed allegations that Miles had inappropriate contact with two female students and insisted that female students working near him had a certain look that included large breasts and a certain hair color.
The findings were part of a lengthy investigation by Husch Blackwell, a firm hired by LSU to investigate various claims of wrongdoing across the campus in recent years.
Among the allegations against Miles, the report says, is that after losing the 2012 National Championship Game, Miles allegedly “attempted to sexualize the staff of student workers in the football program by, for instance, allegedly demanding that he wanted ‘blondes with big boobs’ and ‘pretty girls’,” the report says.
That allegation came from LSU Athletics Department employee Sharon Lewis, a long-time Football Operations employee and current Associate Athletic Director for Football Recruiting and Alumni Relations.
Lewis’ account was corroborated by several witnesses, the investigators said.
Lewis said she repeatedly expressed her concerns to various LSU Athletics administrators and believed those reports “went nowhere,” the report says.
At the time, Miles was the highest-paid public employee in Louisiana, making $4.3 million per year.
Lewis claimed, around this same time, a student came to her and was very upset about something that allegedly happened when the student was alone with Miles. The report did not detail the student’s allegation.
Another employee who was present told investigators the student had was “completely traumatized” and had a “dead stare.”
The report says the incident was reported to Senior Associate Athletics Director Miriam Segar but “the University never did anything about it.”
Investigators said there were unable to find any record of the student’s complaint being investigated in a manner consistent with university policy.
Following that incident, Alleva did issue directives to Miles to “refrain from contact with student workers.”
The next year, in 2013, a second student worker reported alleged inappropriate contact and text messages with Miles, the report said.
The reports says details of the incident and text messages were provided to Segar.
From there, LSU asked an outside law firm, Taylor-Porter, to investigate the allegations. Investigators say this was improper because that same law firm does considerable legal work for the Athletics Department and that could be a conflict of interest.
The law firm said it investigated the second student’s allegations and determined, even if true, they would “not constitute prohibited sexual harassment under applicable law,” the report says. The Husch Blackwell investigators say they disagree with that assessment.
On May 15, 2013, the results of that investigation were provided to three members of the LSU Board of Supervisors including Garret Danos, Stanley Jacobs and Robert Yarborough, as well as LSU attorney Shelby McKenzie, Alleva and Segar.
Investigators said those persons accepted the law firm’s findings and did not take further action.
However, Alleva told investigators, the next month, he recommended to the LSU President, the Board of Supervisors and LSU attorneys that the university consider firing Miles because of the incident.
“I think his continued employment needs to be seriously considered,” Alleva said in an April 2013 email to LSU Chancellor William Jenkins and LSU counsel.”
When reviewing the use of a secret personal phone, the text messages, the fact that I had already advised him against such behavior, the evening meeting off campus, etc. it gives me great concern for the future,” the email said. “This issue can or will have serious impacts on our university and athletic department.”
Three months later, Alleva wrote an email to incoming LSU President F. King Alexander and LSU attorneys, again suggesting that the university should consider firing Miles.
”I want us to think about which scenario is worst for LSU,” Alleva wrote. “Explaining why we let him go or explaining why we let him stay. Proactive or reactive…I always believe people are innocent until proven guilty and in this case 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.”
Investigators said they were unable to find where anyone responded to Alleva’s email.
As the Husch Blackwell report was formally presented to the LSU Board of Supervisors Friday, the university announced brief suspensions for two employees because of allegations detailed in the firm’s findings.
LSU Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry was suspended without pay for 30 days. Miriam Segar was suspended without pay for 21 days.
Current LSU President Tom Galligan said Friday that the university’s investigation into the Husch Blackwell report continues and that more disciplinary action among other university personnel was possible.
Galligan also announced Friday that LSU would overhaul its reporting system for any future incidents like these.
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