Jeff Long steps down as KU Athletics director, university says

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Story updated Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Two days after the University of Kansas football program “mutually parted ways” with coach Les Miles following allegations of sexual harassment during his tenure at Louisiana State University, the man who hired him lost his job as well.

Jeff Long, who took over Kansas Athletics in July 2018, stepped down on Wednesday in a move first reported by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod released a statement Wednesday afternoon praising Long’s “selfless decision” to step down and thanked him for his service to the university.

“Jeff guided Kansas Athletics to progress in student-athlete healthcare, diversity and inclusion, and student-athlete academic achievement, all while managing significant challenges not of his own making,” Girod said. “Most important, Jeff was unwaveringly dedicated to students, coaches and staff, and he represented KU with integrity and compassion. For that, we thank him, and we wish him the very best.”

Long’s five-year contract he signed in 2018 was to pay him a guaranteed salary of $1.5 million annually, with the university budget covering $200,000 and the rest paid by the athletic department. As part of the separation agreement, which KU released shortly after confirming Long’s departure, he will be paid through the end of March, and then receive another $1.375 million paid in 11 monthly installments of $125,000.

The exact source of that funding is unclear in the agreement, and is described only as coming from “University”.

In this file photo from Nov. 18, 2018, then-KU AD Jeff Long announces the hiring of former LSU football coach Les Miles.

In the interim, Girod said prominent KU donor Kurt Watson will serve as the athletics director until a permanent hire can be made. That process will begin immediately, and Girod said he would lead the process with assistance from Linda Ellis Sims, Ray Evans, John Ballard, and Wayne Simien.

“Each of these loyal Jayhawks will bring tremendous expertise and passion to the search, and I know their counsel will benefit the process,” Girod said. “We will move quickly but judiciously, and my hope is to have a new athletics director in place within the next few weeks.”

Once a new athletics director is in place, that individual will determine the next steps related to KU’s search for a sixth football coach since the 2009 season, Girod said.

“I understand time is of the essence and that our football student-athletes are eager to know who will be guiding them. But we are making long-term decisions on an athletics director and a football coach, and we cannot sacrifice the quality of a search simply for expediency,” he said. “While there will be a lot of speculation regarding potential candidates for both searches, I urge Jayhawks to have faith in the process and in those who are devoting their time to assist.”

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