Jeff Long will step down as Kansas athletic director, he said in a statement posted on the university’s website Wednesday, calling his departure “in the best interest of our student-athletes and program.”
Long’s departure comes less than 48 hours after the school parted ways with head soccer coach Les Miles on Monday night amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward female students while he was the coach. in chief at LSU. Long said Tuesday that the university was unaware of any wrongdoing in Miles’ past before hiring him as its head coach in 2018.
“Jeff and I spoke at length last night, and while I know he would have loved to stay here many more years, I respect his selfless decision to resign so that we can take the Kansas Athletics in a different direction,” said Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. he said in a statement Wednesday, acknowledging that the past week “has been a challenge for those of us who love Kansas Athletics.”
Kansas donor Kurt Watson, formerly president and chief operating officer of IMA Financial Group before retiring in 2017, will serve as interim athletic director, Girod said. The university plans to hire a search company to help recruit a new athletic director and will then move on to hiring a soccer head coach.
“Student-athletes have always been the priority and this decision today is based on that same premise,” Long’s statement read. “Values are not simply beliefs, they are defined by actions. It is clear that my continued service as Athletic Director would only serve as a distraction for the nearly 500 amazing young men and women in our athletic department, as well as the outstanding coaches and the staff who support them. Last night, I spoke extensively with Chancellor Girod about my thought process, as well as with my wife, Fanny. Although this is extremely difficult for me, this is the best for KU, me and my family, and I am at peace with this decision. “
Long worked alongside Miles during their days together in Michigan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Long hired Miles to coach the Jayhawks in 2018 after Miles had been out of coaches for part of three. seasons. Miles, who won a national championship at LSU in 2007, was fired at LSU four games in the 2016 season after the Tigers started 2-2.
Long said during his virtual press conference Tuesday that he asked Miles directly during the interview process in 2018 if there was anything in the past that could embarrass the university or the KU program.
“And he said no,” Long said Tuesday. “We also did our due diligence in speaking with people within the LSU athletic department to see if there was anything we should be aware of regarding Coach Miles’ tenure at LSU and we received no indication of any issues.”
Long said that in early February, Miles’ camp informed Kansas of a legal dispute in Louisiana, but was unable to share information about it. Long said he asked Miles if there was anything they should worry about from the reports, and Miles said no.
“At that time we requested copies of all reports related to Les Miles while he was at LSU,” Long said. “Miles’s legal counsel gave us a variety of reasons why they would not provide them to us. On February 24, we learned some details of the allegations when The Advocate published its initial article followed by the USA Today article that same day, which there was a secret settlement and investigation for sexual harassment in 2013. “
Miles had three years left and about $ 8 million left in a five-year contract he signed with Kansas in November 2018. The two parties reached a $ 1.99 million deal, according to the school.
Long was named Kansas Athletic Director in 2018 after serving in that same capacity in Arkansas from 2008 to 2017. His first season as AD was at Pittsburgh from 2003 to 2007.