Les Miles suing LSU; vacated wins drop him below HOF threshold

Former LSU coach Les Miles is suing the school for vacating wins in response to an NCAA infractions case, a move that dropped Miles below the threshold for College Football Hall of Fame qualification.

Miles, who coached LSU from 2005 to 2016, also named the NCAA and the National Football Foundation, which manages the College Football Hall of Fame, as defendants. The lawsuit states he was deprived of property rights to the vacated wins and his nomination for the Hall of Fame, which must be done by those affiliated with an NCAA member school.

In 2023, LSU vacated 37 wins because of recruiting violations stemming from impermissible benefits paid to the father of former player Vadal Alexander by a former booster. The wins coincided with Alexander's playing career from 2012 to 2015 under Miles, who went 37-14 during the stretch. The vacated football wins were announced alongside other penalties for LSU's football and men's basketball programs by the NCAA's Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

The 37 vacated wins dropped Miles' overall record from 145-73, a winning percentage of .665, to 108-73, a winning percentage of .597. Coaches must have a career winning percentage of .600 in at least 100 games to qualify for selection to the College Football Hall of Fame. Miles, 70, helped LSU to a national championship in 2007 and won two SEC titles at the school. He also led programs at Oklahoma State and Kansas.

"Our theory is over the course of his career, Les had certain achievements that he had a right to accept -- in this instance, they triggered being on the [Hall of Fame] ballot," Miles' attorney Peter Ginsberg told ESPN. "When that was stripped of him, without any notice or due process, that action effectively deprived him of the property right to be on the ballot."

Ginsberg said Miles was never made aware of the NCAA investigation impacting the years that he coached, nor was he interviewed during the process.

According to the lawsuit, LSU's "decision not to provide Miles with any form of due process was made in agreement with the NCAA, and in furtherance of the LSU Defendants' negotiations with the NCAA concerning additional and more-severe penalties that otherwise likely would have been imposed on LSU and its athletics program."

The IARP placed LSU on three years' probation. LSU had previously imposed a postseason ban in football for the 2020-21 season.

Ginsberg said he and George Bass, Miles' longtime agent, had several communications with LSU officials after the wins were vacated, including a "substantive" in-person meeting that included a high-ranking university official. According to Ginsberg, the school "seemed not only inclined but enthusiastic to lobby the NCAA to either reverse the punishment or obtain an exception for Les because of these unusual circumstances." Ginsberg thought a resolution was possible, but LSU then cut off all communications with Miles' team, without explanation.

The sides haven't communicated for several months. LSU told ESPN it cannot comment on pending litigation.

"For all those who helped make LSU football so successful, the action is a slap in the face and reflects a disregard for the entire program's hard work and dedication under Les' leadership," Bass said in a news release announcing the lawsuit. "After LSU promised us its help in undoing this injustice, LSU went back on its word, forcing us to take this unfortunate action of suing in order to regain Les' rights."

Other than the adjusted win percentage, Miles is eligible for Hall of Fame selection, as he served as a head coach for more than 10 years, coached more than 100 games and has not coached in more than three years. Miles and Kansas parted ways in March 2021, amid allegations that Miles had behaved inappropriately toward female students during his tenure at LSU.

Miles' lawsuit states that "the bulk" of LSU's infractions, including the most serious violations, occurred in basketball, and that the team's coaches, including former coach Will Wade, were "directly implicated" in violations. The basketball penalties did not include vacated wins or adjusted coaching records. Wade, now at McNeese State, received a two-year show-cause order and a 10-game suspension for three Level I violations.

"I have no doubt that Wade was made aware of and participated in the resolution with the NCAA, but Les was not involved in any way," Ginsberg said.

The lawsuit also notes that two of the three violations the NCAA found with LSU football occurred after Miles' tenure as the team's coach. The Level II violation involving Alexander was discovered two years after Miles' LSU tenure ended.