LSU President F. King Alexander told the Baton Rouge Business Report on Wednesday that political factors led the decision to retain Tiger head coach Les Miles “after a halftime meeting” during Saturday’s game against Texas A&M.
Alexander, who took over at LSU in July of 2013 and is currently under faculty censure for dismissing a tenured professor, admitted that the $15 million required to buy Miles’ contract out was too much, given the current political climate.
“After the type of budget battle we went through this past spring we certainly do not need to be throwing tens of millions of dollars around under certain circumstances,” Alexander says. “We don’t need to go into the next legislative session with a black eye that we’re throwing tens of millions of dollars around on issues that aren’t associated with academic progress.”
The meeting deciding Miles’ fast came during the third quarter of the 19-7 Tiger win over the Aggies, a game in which widespread support was given to Miles – via standing ovations and chants of “Keep Les Miles” – amid much criticism for athletic director Joe Alleva, whose firing was requested by multiple signs, including a banner hung over Tiger Stadium’s east side suites. That banner hung for about a half hour before it was taken down.
Alleva came under fire after two weeks of silence regarding the future of Miles at LSU, which came into question after sources in the athletic department leaked LSU’s 11-year head coach was coaching for his job in the Tigers’ final two regular season games. Many reports indicate Alleva pursued Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, and a deal was thought to have been reached in the middle of last week. That reported deal did not go through, and Miles found out he was remaining as LSU’s head coach in the moments after Saturday’s win, when Alexander and Alleva met with him in his office shortly after the game. Until that point, Miles was convinced Saturday was his last game, as Tiger Rag reportedlast week and several sources confirmed before and since Miles’ retention.
Alexander said “a combination of factors” played into the decision to keep Miles, including his large buyout – a buyout Alleva agreed to in 2013. It didn’t matter, Alexander said, that LSU was planning to raise the money for Miles’ buyout privately, without using any university money.
“The public at large really doesn’t differentiate where the money comes from,” he says. “No matter how you explain it, it’s still a $15 million to $25 million decision that needs to be factored into the overall equation.”
DISCLAIMER: LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McCollister is the publisher of the Business Report.