Associate AD claims harassment, retaliation in $50M lawsuit vs. LSU, ex-coach Les Miles

Jason Owens
·3 min read
Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers reacts during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Les Miles and LSU are named in a $50 million lawsuit related to a 2013 sexual harassment investigation. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

LSU associate athletic director Sharon Lewis is filing a $50 million Title IX lawsuit against the school, former football coach Les Miles and a law firm representing the school. 

Her attorneys Larry English, Bridgett Brown and Tammye Brown announced on Tuesday that the suit will be filed in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge on Wednesday. The suit accuses LSU officials of conspiring to cover up a sexual harassment investigation into Miles and retaliating against Lewis for reporting on the allegations:

"Members of the LSU Board of Supervisors, LSU Athletic Department, LSU Leadership and their law firm, Taylor Porter entered into a conspiracy to hide Les Miles’ sexual harassment investigation from federal officials and the public and to retaliate against Ms. Lewis," the announcement reads. "Over the last eight (8) years, Ms. Lewis has stood up to to protect LSU female student workers and as a result has suffered unimaginable retaliation sanctioned by the LSU Board of Supervisors.”

Miles was accused of repeated inappropriate behavior with female students

News broke in February that Miles, who coached at LSU from 2005-16 and won a national championship, was the subject of a sexual harassment investigation in 2013. He was accused of repeated inappropriate behavior at LSU including kissing a female student, inviting female students to his home and requiring that only “blondes with the big boobs” and “pretty girls” would work for the team.

The investigation took place in 2013, and Miles continued to coach at LSU until 2016. It was sealed until February, when USA Today reported on it.

Miles denied the allegations at the time. He was issued a reprimand by LSU and banned from being alone with female students as he continued to coach. He lost his job as Kansas head coach in March after the investigation went public. 

Lewis told USA Today on Tuesday that athletic department officials "tormented her" after she reported allegations against Miles and that "Miles harassed and undermined her for years" and pressured her to replace Black members of the student staff "with blond women or light-skinned Black women."

Lewis accused separately of failing to report abuse allegations

Lewis separately stands accused of participating in coverups of allegations against LSU student-athletes in violation of Title IX guidelines. From a USA Today report on a Title IX investigation into dating violence allegations against the program:

"The report shows that deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry and football recruiting director Sharon Lewis admitted it was their practice to steer allegations against athletes to Miriam Segar, a senior associate athletic director, instead of reporting them directly to the Title IX coordinator, as LSU policy requires."

Former student employee Calise Richardson accused former LSU football player Drake Davis of repeatedly assaulting her while the two were in a relationship in 2016. Per USA Today, she says that she notified Lewis — her manager — of the alleged abuse, and that Lewis declined to report them to Title IX officials. 

Lewis declined comment to USA Today for that story. Those incidents are not related to the 2013 investigation into Miles.

An in-depth report by lawfirm Husch-Blackwell into allegations against LSU released in March addressed Lewis being disciplined for failure to report:

"The only person in the entire University who has ever been disciplined in any form for failing to make a report under PM-73 is Athletics Department employee Sharon Lewis, a long-time Football Operations employee and current Associate Athletic Director for Football Recruiting and Alumni Relations. This is ironic because Lewis has lodged several reports of sex harassment throughout her tenure."

Neither LSU nor Miles have publicly responded to Lewis' pending lawsuit.

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