$50M suit alleges retaliation over allegations against coach

FILE - Then-LSU head coach Les Miles watches his team warm up before an NCAA college football game against Florida in Baton Rouge, La., in this Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, file photo. In a $50 million federal racketeering lawsuit, an associate athletic director at LSU accuses university officials of retaliating against her for reporting racist remarks and inappropriate sexual behavior by former head football coach Les Miles. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BATON ROUGE, La. – In a $50 million federal racketeering lawsuit, an associate athletic director at Louisiana State University accuses university officials of retaliating against her for reporting racist remarks and inappropriate sexual behavior by former head football coach Les Miles.

Sharon Lewis' lawsuit said she was denied pay raises and subjected to verbal abuse after going to officials with the allegations against Miles — including her accusation that he told her there were “too many Black girls” employed in athletics and an incident when a female student accused him of “getting on top of her” on his office couch. It also accuses LSU officials of working with a law firm to cover up allegations against Miles, including one that he engaged in “explicit sex acts” with a student.

“This lawsuit is a work of fiction eight years in the making,” Miles' attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said in an emailed statement. Miles has denied allegations he made sexual advances toward students.

Lewis, a former LSU track and field star, is the associate athletic director for football recruiting and alumni relations at LSU. Her lawsuit, filed in Baton Rouge, is the latest blow to the university after an independent investigator determined the school mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct by student athletes and Miles.

“We are disappointed that a 20 year employee, who has received several promotions throughout her career and currently serves as Associate Athletic Director, is now filing a lawsuit against the university,” LSU lawyer Winston DeCuir said in an email. “Following the press conference by her counsel, we believe that this lawsuit is an attempt to take advantage of the situation for personal benefit,” he added, referring to a news conference earlier in the week.

Numerous LSU officials refused to testify Thursday in Baton Rouge at a legislative hearing about the ongoing scandal, sending DeCuir on their behalf.

Several LSU students told the committee they don’t believe university leaders are doing enough to improve the climate.

“It still feels like the university is waiting for everything to go away,” said Charlie Stephens, a sophomore in LSU’s mass communications school.