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Days after Les Miles' departure, Kansas AD Jeff Long steps down

Sam Cooper
·5 min read
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The overhaul at Kansas continues.

Two days after the school moved on from head football coach Les Miles, athletic director Jeff Long has stepped down. In a statement, Long said he decided to step down Wednesday after meeting with KU chancellor Douglas Girod on Tuesday night.

Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that the athletics staff was informed of Long's departure during a Wednesday afternoon meeting. The news was announced to the public shortly thereafter.

As part of a separation agreement, Jeff Long will be paid his usual monthly salary through the end of March. From there, he will receive monthly payments of $125,000 through February 2022. Those monthly payments will total $1.375 million. 

Long started at Kansas in July 2018. A few months later, Long hired Miles in an effort to revitalize Kansas’ struggling football program. Miles won a national championship at LSU, but had been fired after four games of the 2016 season.

At Kansas, Miles went just 3-18 over a two-season period. Miles and the school parted ways late Monday night a few days after Miles had been placed on administrative leave as harassment allegations from his time at LSU surfaced. The Miles allegations came to light as LSU launched an investigation to look into the way it handled accusations of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse.

Miles was accused of behaving inappropriately toward female students while he was LSU’s coach. The alleged conduct from Miles caused then-LSU athletic director Joe Alleva to recommend the school fire Miles with cause.

Among other incidents, a female student alleged that Miles kissed her twice and told her she was attractive. Though Miles denied the accusation, a 2013 investigative report into the incident said “it appears that [Miles] has shown poor judgment in placing himself in a situation in which the student employee might be uncomfortable.”

Jeff Long brought Les Miles to Kansas

Long, previously the athletic director at Pittsburgh and Arkansas, was responsible for the hire of Miles at Kansas. The two have a relationship dating back to their time working at the University of Michigan. Long said Tuesday that he and the university were unaware of the investigation into Miles’ conduct at LSU when he was brought to Kansas.

"I also asked Coach Miles directly during the interview process whether there was anything in his past that could potentially embarrass the university or himself or our program, and he said no. 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,” Long said.

In his statement released Wednesday, Long said he "always acted in the best interests" of Kansas.

"Chancellor Girod and I met and both agreed that it was in the best interest of our student-athletes and program for me to step down as of today. It is not easy, but I leave KU with a heavy heart and profound confidence that I have always acted in the best interests of Kansas Athletics. I have done everything in my control to move Kansas Athletics forward in a positive manner, that’s what makes this most difficult," Long said.

Les Miles, left, is introduced as Kansas football coach by athletic director Jeff Long, right, during a news conference in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Les Miles, left, is introduced as Kansas football coach by athletic director Jeff Long, right, during a news conference in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In a statement released Monday night, Long said the school would “identify the right individual to lead” the football program moving forward.

"We will begin the search for a new head coach immediately with an outside firm to assist in this process. We need to win football games, and that is exactly what we’re going to do,” Long’s statement said.

Long also said he would be the one leading the search for a new head coach. Now that will no longer be the case.

"It is clear that my continued service as the Director of Athletics would only serve as a distraction to the nearly 500 incredible young men and women in our athletics department, as well as to the outstanding coaches and staff who support them," Long said Wednesday. "Last night, I spoke with Chancellor Girod at length about my thought process, as well as with my wife, Fanny. Even though this is extremely difficult for me, this is what is best for KU, for me and for my family, and I am at peace with this decision."

KU chancellor: AD search will begin immediately

In a statement of his own, Girod said Kansas will immediately begin its search for a new athletic director. Girod will lead the process with assistance from a search firm and four alumni advisers. Kurt Watson will serve as the interim athletic director.

"We will move quickly but judiciously, and my hope is to have a new athletic director in place within the next few weeks," Girod said.

Once the search for an athletic director is completed, the new AD will "determine next steps related to our football coach position," 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," Girod 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."

Kansas said Monday that Mike DeBord will serve as the football team’s acting head coach “until an interim head coach is determined.”

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel pointed to Tulane's Willie Fritz, Buffalo's Lance Leipold, Louisiana Tech's Skip Holtz and Air Force's Troy Calhoun as potential candidates for Kansas.

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