Home » That is when the panic started to set in,” Lewis said, “because I realized they didn’t have my back

That is when the panic started to set in,” Lewis said, “because I realized they didn’t have my back

The arc of the story, the actual details of it, never really mattered when it came to Scott Drew. Maybe it was rooted in the whispers of recruiting impropriety early in his career that never amounted to anything, even when the NCAA looked into them. Maybe it was his relentless positivity that bordered at times on smarm. Maybe it was a few embarrassing NCAA Tournament losses that built the narrative, even though the real miracle was that Baylor basketball had been good enough to be favored in those kinds of games to begin with.

Whatever it was, you heard it for nearly two decades: Scott Drew Can’t Coach.

Let it be known that on Monday night, in a football stadium in the state where he grew up, with his father and brother — both college basketball coaches — standing and gyrating in the stands, there’s a new set of words that will forever define Baylor Basketball.

Scott Drew and the Bears ran over previously unbeaten Gonzaga.
Scott Drew is a National Champion. And by the time the journey was complete, in the final moments of an 86-70 evisceration of No. 1-ranked Gonzaga, any narrative that had previously knocked Drew for the work he’d done at Baylor looked awfully silly.

Because what had been a season-long collision course to the national championship game between the two best teams in college basketball turned into one-way traffic. What started as Gonzaga’s quest for perfection became a full-scale submission. What looked like a potential classic instead became a showcase for the relentlessness, the abounding energy and the marvelous skill on which Drew had built this team over the last two years for exactly this moment.

‘We didn’t even have to be lucky’
“You don’t get these opportunities often, and we were on a mission to make the most of it,” Drew said. “In the coaching fraternity, getting to a Final Four is very similar to winning a national championship — there’s usually some luck that goes into it. We didn’t even have to be lucky because our guys were so dominant this entire tournament.”

Indeed, in Drew’s masterpiece of a championship game, it was never close, never truly competitive, never really in doubt. For all the talk about Gonzaga’s historically good efficiency numbers and its attempt to become the first undefeated national champion since 1976, the best team in college basketball was hidden in plain sight — right up until a barrage of 3-pointers, defensive deflections and thumping drives to the rim in the opening minutes Monday made it obvious for everyone.

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“They punched us in the mouth right at the get-go,” Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert said. “It took a long, long time for us to recover and start playing them even again. But then it was too late.”

MORE:Baylor wins first NCAA men’s basketball championship, ends Gonzaga’s perfect season

ANALYSIS:Gonzaga showed cracks in semifinal, and Baylor capitalized

Aside from a very brief moment in the second half when Gonzaga pulled within nine points, the game was basically drama-free. Gonzaga was so utterly turned around on both ends of the floor — “We were kind of playing sideways,” coach Mark Few said — that it resorted to playing a zone defense, something it had done for only a handful of possessions the entire season.

It worked for about two minutes, until Drew called a timeout, got guard MaCio Teague flashing into the middle for mid-range jumpers and busted it up with haste. So much for the can’t coach thing, eh?

“We didn’t even look at the scoreboard,” Baylor guard Jared Butler said. “I looked up at halftime and we were up 10. I knew at some point we were up big because we were scoring, they’re not scoring. It was just electrifying in that type of moment in a big game and everybody stepped up. Everybody was clicking on all cylinders, and that’s what it takes to win.”

The doubters
There was a time in Drew’s career when so many people in college basketball gleefully said he would never figure out how to win at this level.

Though he had pulled Baylor out of one of the worst scandals in college sports history when he arrived in 2003 and shocked the sport just by getting to the NCAA Tournament five years later, there were detractors every step of the way.

In those early days, when Drew chased the kind of high-level recruits who normally wouldn’t have considered Baylor, or when he hired an AAU coach as an assistant to try and land a player, his competitors would suggest it wasn’t on the level.

Then when he got some of those players and they didn’t necessarily light the world on fire, the reputation was that he couldn’t get them to the NBA.

Even when Baylor went to Elite Eights in 2010 and 2012, making another step up the ladder, the conventional wisdom never gave Drew credit for much more than rolling the balls out.

It was ridiculous of course, all of it. Even a decade ago, what he’d accomplished at Baylor to rescue the program from the Dave Bliss scandal was one of the great rebuilding jobs anybody had ever pulled off.

But with Drew, all anyone wanted to talk about was losing to Georgia State and Yale in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2015 and 2016, as if he’s the only one who ever got an upset pulled on them in the first round.

“To me, (winning a championship) never defines a great coach,” Drew said. “Just like there’s so many players, NBA players who never won an NBA championship and great college players that never went to a Final Four. I value coaches. Do they make their players better spiritually, academically, character-wise? Are you preparing them for life?”

Even if Drew thought he was succeeding in those metrics, he did make some key adjustments in his program that led directly to Monday’s championship. Instead of chasing the flashy recruits, he reoriented his philosophy around older players, many of whom had started their college careers elsewhere, including guard Davion Mitchell (formerly of Auburn), Teague (formerly of UNC-Asheville) and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (formerly of UNLV).

He also got rid of the zone defense that Baylor used to play almost exclusively and rebranded the program on an aggressive man-to-man and 40 minutes of in-your-face ball pressure. The result was a team of physical and emotional grown-ups with three guards who could all drive it down your throat, score off the dribble and shoot the lights out at any given moment.

“Personnel-wise, if you looked at our teams in the past, we were so long with 6-9, 6-11, 7-foot across the frontline,” Drew said. “Now we have more guards. My dad’s a hall of fame coach for a reason. He taught me the good coach adjusts your style to the personnel you have.

“And we had some unbelievable defenders this year, and those guys can flat-out defend and guard. We wanted to let them get after it, and we thought that would better suit our team. Credit to (the assistant coaches) for doing a great job implementing it. And because of that, we’ve been successful.”

But perhaps the biggest coaching challenge of Drew’s career arrived on Feb. 5 when the Bears, who were 17-0 at the time, went into a three-week pause due to COVID-19 cases within the program. The lack of practice time and loss of continuity was evident when Baylor came back for the final five games of the regular season, with losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.

In a way, though, it might have taken some of the pressure off Baylor. With a full week to do nothing but practice before the NCAA Tournament began, Drew saw the defensive intensity and togetherness that had carried his team through most of the season slowly get back to its previous level. Then as Baylor got deeper in the tournament, they started making shots again. They finished with one of the most dominant Final Four performances ever, beating Houston by 19 and Gonzaga by 16 in games that were visually even more lopsided than the scores.

“Our team has been special,” Drew said, but really, so has this entire 18-year run to build a national champion in Waco, Texas.

Monday night began with talk of potential perfection. But as Baylor showed, it wasn’t about a win-loss record. It was about the parts working together when everything is on the line. By that standard, nobody was more perfect than the team Drew put on the floor Monday night.

Can he coach? Nobody will ever have to ask that question again.

Sharon Lewis, an administrator at Louisiana State University, reported then-LSU football coach Les Miles for alleged sexual misconduct in 2013. After the report, Lewis claims,…
Top Louisiana State University officials conspired to cover up football coach Les Miles’ sexual harassment, then engaged in a years-long retaliation against the employee who reported it, the employee alleged in a series of federal and state lawsuits expected to be filed this week.

Sharon Lewis, LSU’s associate athletic director of football recruiting, named several senior officials who she claims tormented her, discriminated based on sex and race, underpaid her and contributed to LSU’s systemic failure to protect students and hold perpetrators accountable for gendered violence and harassment.

Attorneys for Lewis said they plan to file a federal Title IX lawsuit, a state whistleblower lawsuit, an Equal Employment Opportunity grievance and a civil lawsuit under the federal RICO statute, which is used to dismantle organized crime rings.

Defendants in the lawsuits include Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry and Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar – the only two LSU officials disciplined last month in connection with the school’s years-long, widespread mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Those failures were detailed in a report by the law firm Husch Blackwell, which LSU hired to review its handling of such claims in response to reporting by USA TODAY.

Last month, LSU suspended Ausberry and Segar without pay for 30 days and 21 days, respectively – punishments decried by women state lawmakers and students as too lenient. Segar returned to work last week, and Ausberry returned Monday.

In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, Lewis described a pattern of abusive treatment and retaliation by Miles, Ausberry, Segar, compliance director Bo Bahnsen and other athletics officials. The retaliation, she said, continues to this day.

Lewis said Miles harassed and undermined her for years, trying to sexualize the group of student workers she supervised. Ausberry verbally abused her, she said, and he and Segar lied to an LSU Title IX investigator to get her in trouble.

Lewis, the first Black woman football recruiting director in the Southeastern Conference, said she was denied pay raises and promotions, ridiculed in front of her co-workers and told to find another job when she complained. She suffered a mental breakdown, she said.

Verge Ausberry was suspended without pay for 30 days.
Verge Ausberry was suspended without pay for 30 days.
“They get to lie, and they get to admit that they lied, and come back to work,” she said on a Zoom call with USA TODAY, accompanied by her attorneys. “I mean, it’s about – we have to set a standard there, that’s all.”

In addition to Ausberry, Segar and Bahnsen, other defendants include current and former members of the LSU Board of Supervisors, the law firm Taylor Porter, former LSU President F. King Alexander and Athletic Director Scott Woodward, who Lewis said has a close personal relationship with Ausberry and refuses to meet directly with her despite being head of her department. Ausberry, Lewis said, called Woodward his “boy” in a conversation last year during which he said Woodward would not protect her.

A 19-year veteran of the football staff and former LSU track champion, Lewis said she has stayed in her position because she loves the school and wants to create paths for other women in football. She said she continues to endure abuse from colleagues, who have tried to push her out.

“The same people are here – the same people who were treating me hostilely from Day One of me reporting,” Lewis said. “It’s still a hostile work environment for me. I still feel panic. I still feel isolated. And I don’t feel protected.”

The claims in Lewis’ lawsuits are corroborated by several former employees interviewed by Husch Blackwell, as well as memos and letters Lewis and her attorney sent to LSU’s human resources office memorializing the alleged harassment, retaliation and discrimination she suffered over the years. USA TODAY reviewed copies of the documents.

Miriam Segar was suspended without pay for 21 days.
Miriam Segar was suspended without pay for 21 days.
LSU never investigated Lewis’ complaints, Husch Blackwell found.

LSU declined to comment on potential litigation. Ausberry also declined to speak about the allegations. Segar did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Peter Ginsberg, an attorney for Miles, denied all of Lewis’ allegations against his client and questioned her motives.

Larry English, one of three attorneys representing Lewis, said that by systemically covering up reports of sexual misconduct and retaliation, top LSU officials and board members engaged in a conspiracy to circumvent federal and state laws.

“This case is about how LSU values women and women of color,” English said. “There is a problem when you look at this case: Everybody who had power in this case was a man. When you have a university and a system where women are devalued, they are mistreated.”

Les Miles pressured Lewis
The harassment and retaliation against Lewis started within days of Miles’ arrival as LSU’s newly hired head football coach in January 2005, Lewis alleged in her lawsuit and in an interview with USA TODAY.

Lewis, who was hired in 2002, was in charge of coordinating travel, lodging, meals and meetings for recruits and their families during official visits to LSU. She managed a group of student workers who assisted with recruiting, including hosting recruits during campus visits.

Hostess groups, which were almost always all-women, were an under-the-radar but commonplace part of college football until 2004, when the NCAA took measures to rein them back after high-profile incidents at the University of Colorado and Arizona State. Hostesses said they had supplied alcohol and sex to recruits, and some said football players had raped them.

Although LSU’s hostess program – called Tiger Pride – was officially disbanded around that time, the sexualization of LSU’s football recruiting staff resumed almost immediately after Miles’ hiring, Lewis said.

Former LSU head football coach Les Miles was accused of sexual harassment in 2013. He denied the accusations.
Former LSU head football coach Les Miles was accused of sexual harassment in 2013. He denied the accusations.
Miles repeatedly pressured Lewis to replace Black student workers on her recruiting staff with blond women or light-skinned Black women whom he considered prettier, Lewis said. When she refused, she said, he directed others to get Lewis to comply with his demands. Her attempts to report his behavior fell on deaf ears, she said.

Among the incidents she described was a meeting on Miles’ second or third day on the job. Miles told a coach in the room that he preferred blondes, not brunettes, working in his office. He said it without looking at Lewis, even though she was right next to him, she said.

About a month later, according to Lewis, Miles said of a blond woman they hired, “Now she’s the face of recruiting.” Lewis perceived his comments as racist, she said.

Sharon Lewis started working for LSU football in 2001, when Nick Saban was the head coach. A former All-SEC heptathlete and high jumper, she had helped the Tigers win national outdoor track and field championships in 1988, 1989 and 1991.
Show caption
Sharon Lewis started working for LSU football in 2001, when Nick Saban was the head coach. A former All-SEC heptathlete and high jumper, she had…
Lewis said Miles came to her office and told her they had “too many fat girls, Black girls and ugly girls,” and they “look like a bad bowling team.” She said he described ugly girls as “a.m. girls” who should be relegated to office work, and “blondes with big boobs” as “p.m. girls” who should be at recruiting events for people to look at.

In November 2010, LSU hosted quarterback recruit Zach Mettenberger on an official visit. Miles needed a quarterback, and Mettenberger had just been kicked off the University of Georgia football team after he was accused of groping the breasts and buttocks of a student at a bar. Mettenberger pleaded guilty to counts of battery that May and was sentenced to a year of probation.

In a staff meeting after Mettenberger’s visit, Miles complained that LSU’s recruiting girls were ugly and that when he was head coach at Oklahoma State University, he interviewed and picked the girls himself. Miles didn’t realize Lewis was there, she said, until all the coaches looked at her. She said she felt shocked, embarrassed and isolated.

Miles pressured his staff to get Lewis to comply, she said. According to Lewis, then-running backs coach Frank Wilson and then-director of player personnel Sherman Morris instructed her to hire fewer Black girls or at least lighter-skinned Black girls to “get Coach Miles off my back.” Wilson and Morris met with Lewis’ colleagues, she said, and asked them to help influence Lewis “to do what Les Miles wanted.”

Lewis reported all this to Ausberry, Bahnsen and other administrators, she said, but they seemed to take Miles’ side. Bahnsen “hinted that maybe it was time for me to look for another job,” Lewis said. Ausberry told her she used to hire prettier girls and should resume doing so, referring to a white woman she’d hired, Lewis said. He told her to focus more on her job and less on Miles’ comments and said she “should have taken the job at Alabama.”

“That is when the panic started to set in,” Lewis said, “because I realized they didn’t have my back.”

Bosses overruled Lewis’ objections
After years of being rebuffed by Lewis, she said, Miles decided in early 2012 to start personally interviewing student workers in his office at night.

This plan, which was authorized by Ausberry, Bahnsen and director of football operations Sam Nader over Lewis’ objections, led to the sexual harassment of several of Lewis’ employees and triggered an internal investigative report that campus officials and board members sought to conceal, Lewis said.

It was, Lewis said, her “worst nightmare.”

Some of the women disclosed to Lewis that during the meetings, Miles asked them about their sex life, she said. One student said Miles asked her whether she was a virgin.

Then, around the same time that LSU negotiated a new, $4.3 million-per-year contract with Miles that made him the fourth-highest paid college football coach in the country, Miles’ behavior escalated.

A report by the law firm Husch Blackwell says a student was “completely traumatized” in a confrontation with LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles.
A report by the law firm Husch Blackwell says a student was “completely traumatized” in a confrontation with LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles.
In January 2013, a student came to Lewis and a colleague “very upset about something that happened when she was alone with Coach Miles” and wanted to confront Miles about it. The student, Lewis said, later told her that Miles “got on top of her in his office on his couch.”

During an ensuing confrontation with Miles, the student was “completely traumatized,” had a “dead stare” and “kept saying over and over, ‘You know what you did to me,’” according to the Husch Blackwell report. Lewis, who was in the meeting, said it was very emotional, and Miles kept apologizing to the student for his actions.

Afterward, Lewis immediately notified Segar and later Ausberry. In a meeting with athletics human resources director Wendy Nall, Segar told Lewis she’d “take it from here” and dismissed her. Segar called Lewis and said the student “can no longer work in football” and recommended that she “be moved out of the building,” Lewis said.

Husch Blackwell found no records indicating the student’s complaint was “investigated in a matter consistent with then-University policy” and no evidence that the student was informed of her rights or provided supportive resources.

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva told coach Les Miles to “refrain from contact with student workers.”
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva told coach Les Miles to “refrain from contact with student workers.”
Then-Athletic Director Joe Alleva directed Miles to “refrain from contact with student workers” after the incident, the Husch Blackwell report says. He engaged law firm Taylor Porter to provide sexual harassment training to employees.

The next month, in February 2013, another student worker came to Lewis, reporting that Miles had made sexual advances toward her and sent her inappropriate text messages. Lewis said she notified Segar, Ausberry and Nall, who excluded Lewis from further meetings. Segar told Lewis she was “no longer to interview the girls when they come to me with complaints” and instead was “to just turn them over to her immediately” and have “no more involvement.”


Zaraki Kenpachi