KU Athletics to pay Miles nearly $2M settlement; Long: ‘Debatable’ whether ex-coach lied in interview process

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Just a day after announcing it was parting ways with football coach Les Miles, who was accused of sexual harassment while the coach at Louisiana State University, Kansas Athletics on Tuesday announced the two parties had settled on a $1.9 million payout to end Miles’ obligations to the program.

A few hours later, KU Athletics Director Jeff Long said in a press conference that moving on from Miles’ tenure was in the best interests of the university and the football program — and that the entirety of the buyout would be covered by department funds, not from the university’s operating budget.

However, the fact that there was a settlement to begin with is likely to raise some questions moving forward.

Long on Tuesday stated that his department and the university did their due diligence when Miles was hired in 2018. Long said he directly asked the now-former coach if there was anything in Miles’ past that could come back to embarrass him or the program. Miles said there wasn’t, according to Long.

“As the University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics does with all hirings, we ran multiple background checks on Coach Miles,” Long said. “We also did our due diligence by talking to individuals within the LSU athletics department to see if there was anything we should be aware of regarding Coach Miles’ tenure at LSU and received no indications of any issues.”

Asked later in the press conference why KU paid Miles at all, considering his potentially inflammatory conduct while at LSU, Long — Miles’ friend of three decades — initially chalked it up to a question for KU’s legal department. When pressed by Andy Staples, a reporter for The Athletic, however, Long said, “That is debatable whether that’s a lie.”

“I’ll leave that to our legal people to dice that out,” Long continued. “We felt it was important to move our program forward, that we needed to basically agree to immediately part and pay Les through the remainder of (20)21, is basically what it comes down to.”

As for the settlement itself, Miles, the sixth-winningest active coach in college football, will make $1,991,063 through the end of 2021. The agreement does not specify where within the athletics department the sum will come from, but $41,667 will be paid to Miles directly each month, $107,438 will be paid to Miles’ LLC monthly, and $52,083 will be paid to Miles’ LLC for a “licensing fee settlement” each month — a total monthly payout of $201,188 through December.

Miles is Kansas’ fifth football coach since the 2009 season, all but one of whom have required contract buyouts in the millions, and is the latest in a disastrous 12-year run for the program that has compiled a record in that time of 21-108.

Long said that offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, who joined the program just a month ago, is currently the football team’s acting head coach. That’s a different distinction from an interim head coach, which Long said has not yet been decided.

“These changes are very difficult, and they’re most difficult on the student athletes in the program. And I’m not sure, sometimes, the outside world understands that. But this is a team, a brotherhood,” Long said. “People that lean on each other, and they’re supported by a special group of coaches and staff that all love them and support them. So our focus is on those student athletes, and we’re working very hard to support them in this time.”

Long didn’t specify on when an interim coach might be named, and he reiterated that an outside search firm was engaged in seeking out the program’s next full-time leader.

Long and the university have not yet publicly addressed the substance of the sexual harassment allegations Miles is accused of engaging in at LSU, which included a 2013 incident that reportedly left a student worker “completely traumatized.”

Watch the press conference, via the Kansas City Star on YouTube:

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