LSU’s decision to keep football coach Les Miles was about more than the money, LSU President F. King Alexander told the Baton Rouge Business Report in a story posted Thursday morning. The Business Report is owned by LSU board member Rolfe McCollister.
Among the consideration, according to Alexander: A groundswell of popular support for Miles, the winning record compiled by Miles in his 11 years, and public perception about a pricey buyout after state cuts in higher education funding, which he considered a potential "black eye" for the university.
The Advocate requested an interview with Alexander on Wednesday, but has been told he is unavailable to speak until Monday.
Alexander confirmed that the final decision to keep Miles was made after a halftime meeting during the Nov. 28 LSU vs. Texas A&M game, though he said the decision had “pretty much been made” a few days earlier. Athletic Director Joe Alleva announced the decision after the game.
“We’re focused on the university as a whole, the students as a whole, and that was a very costly direction we were headed in,” Alexander told the Business Report, “and under the circumstances we felt it was not the prudent decision to make.”
In his 11th season at LSU, Miles has a 111-32 record, a winning percentage that is tops among all LSU coaches since the school joined the Southeastern Conference in 1933. He's 63-29 in SEC games and led the Tigers to a bowl game each season, going 6-4 but with losses three of the last four years.
Miles also led LSU to the 2007 BCS national championship and SEC title that year, as well as an SEC title in 2011 and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game following that season.
After weeks of media and fan speculation about Miles' status, Alleva broke his silence on the situation after the Texas A&M game, making a statement at the opening the postgame news conference: “I want to make it very clear that Les Miles is our football coach, and he’ll continue to be our football coach.
“Les and I have talked about this program. We are committed together to working to win to compete at the highest level,” Alleva said. “We’re going to go forward together and win championships here at LSU.”
Miles, who was told of the decision immediately after the game, addressed reporters next. “It’s great to be the head coach at LSU,” he said.
Miles was carried off the field by players after the victory to the cheers of the Tiger Stadium crowd. After the game, players reacted positively to news of the coaching decision.
“I’m happy. Like I told y’all, I wouldn’t want to go to war with anyone but him,” said running back Leonard Fournette, who ran for 159 yards in the win.
“We love him,” defensive tackle Christian LaCouture said, “and he deserved it.”