This is where Heroes resides most Fridays, but not this one.
This past week, Les Miles resigned from his position as head football coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. The announcement came on the heels of allegations of sexual misconduct against Miles for incidents that occurred during his tenure at LSU. To refer to this latest incident as a revelation, as certain news outlets have done, is to dismiss out of hand the fact that these charges are a decade old.
The fact that this story has mostly flown under the radar of national sports outlets is a sobering testament to just how far the women’s movement still has to go. It’s also a scathing appraisal of the sports landscape, where women are still objectified and where cases of violence, abuse and sexual misconduct are oftentimes covered up or pushed aside. Sports leagues and the networks who fill their coffers have done a commendable job of providing us with bumper sticker slogans about women’s rights, but it’s a theoretical illusion whose practices tell a very different story.
This week’s sports news cycle has been rife with quarterback trade scenarios and big money signings, mock drafts, college basketball tournaments and all star slam dunk contests. Basically, the talking points for lame sports talk radio fodder takes precedence over the reality too many women are still facing on a daily basis. It would seem that their ‘woke’ is still broke.
While at LSU, Les Miles lorded over a football program whose treatment of women was shameful at best and criminal at its worst. Miles provided a refuge for players who put the female population on campus at risk by patently absolving them of any wrongdoing in numerous instances. Assault and rape went hand in hand with SEC titles at the school as the quirky old school coach created a cult of personality that shielded his sorry ass, so long as he continued winning.
It was his own personal conduct towards female students that brought him under fire recently. There have been accusations of harassment and stories of how the coach insisted on being surrounding by “blondes with big boobs” in the workplace. Things got so bad that the administration was forced to babysit Miles for fear his behavior would draw the attention of someone outside the university. As it was, the school did its best to protect Miles, at the expense of all the women who came forward.
Miles has since resigned as head football coach at Kansas. He denied any wrongdoing and he talked about football and his players and of course, his family. He didn’t provide an explanation as to why he was stepping down if he hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place. It was an easy decision for the administration, seeing as how he was 3-18 in his two seasons at the helm. Because it’s always easier for these programs to do the right thing when the coach isn’t winning games and donor money starts to dry up. As for the guy who hired him, his pal Athletic Director Jeff Long stepped down two days after the story broke, in a move that KU chancellor Douglas Girod called “selfless”. And there’s the tell in this whole sordid mess, tucked into the language of the blameless. Kansas becomes just the latest collegiate program to get found out for what it truly is, rather than what it purports to be.
Girod has begun the process of pretending away the past, and this is where things get expensive. The school has hired a search firm to assist them in finding their next coach. It’s a good bet they’ll look to add a PR firm to their payroll while they’re at it, so that they can frame their guilt in gold leaf. They’ll insist they hadn’t a clue as to why a big deal name such as Les Miles would’ve been interested in taking over an also-ran program in the middle of nowhere when the truth of the matter is, he was damaged goods all along. Of course, to bring those details to light would make Girod and a lot of other really important people complicit in the aiding and abetting of another bad guy ball coach. Because the sad fact is, Miles’ sordid past didn’t deter the people who hired him.
It was his winless present that made it easy to let him go.