Lawyers: LSU fired athletics official in retaliation

NCAAF

BATON ROUGE, La. — Lawyers for an associate athletic director who filed a $50 million federal racketeering lawsuit against Louisiana State University say she has been fired in retaliation and asked the court Wednesday to add that claim to her suit.

“On January 5, 2022, LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward terminated Sharon Lewis without cause in retaliation for her reporting Title IX violations against LSU Football players, Coaches and Athletic officials,” they wrote in a proposed revision.

Lewis said in state and federal lawsuits filed in 2021 that she was denied pay raises and was verbally abused after reporting that former football coach Les Miles had sexually harassed female student workers and made racist remarks.

“The wrongful termination of Sharon Lewis by LSU is a continuation of the retaliation she has endured for reporting violations” of the federal sex discrimination law known as Title IX and of state law, Lewis’ attorneys said in a statement released to reporters Tuesday.

Lawyers Larry English, Bridgett Brown and Tammye Brown said Woodward fired Lewis on Jan. 5 “without cause.”

LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard said that he cannot comment about specific personnel actions but that the athletic department has had 40 “reassignments and departures” within the past month. Several high-profile employees connected to the football program have recently lost their jobs as new coach Brian Kelly assembles his staff.

Lewis, a former LSU track and field star, handled football recruiting and alumni relations for more than a decade.

A federal judge has rejected her racketeering claims, but other aspects of that suit and her state lawsuit are still in court, The Advocate reported.

Former coach Miles and former university president F. King Alexander lost jobs at other universities last year after LSU released a report it had commissioned about how officials had handled sexual misconduct cases.

That report noted Lewis’ allegations, her lawyers pointed out. They said her dismissal violates Louisiana’s whistleblower law and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines as well as Title IX.

Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry and Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar, who were suspended briefly, both remain on the department’s staff, the lawyers said.

“There can be no clearer statement of the values of Scott Woodward and LSU’s Board Of Supervisors,” they wrote.

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