University of Idaho athletic director on leave as school examines sexual harassment case

click to enlarge University of Idaho
University of Idaho

With the University of Idaho now facing questions for how it handled a student's complaints that she was harassed and inappropriately touched by a football player in 2013, the university has put its athletic director ROB SPEAR on paid administrative leave.

The university announced that Spear was put on administrative leave last week. It will last 60 days, as investigators and university leadership works "to better understand process failures in reporting sexual assault complaints" that took place five years ago.

"Understanding how we've handled situations in the past and how we can improve is essential," UI President Chuck Staben announced. "We have a responsibility to provide our students, and our student-athletes, with the best college experience and the most support possible."

Idaho Vandals diver Mairin Jameson and distance runner Maggie Miller reported in April 2013 instances of harassment by a football player named Jahrie Level to the athletic department and to Moscow Police. Under Title IX guidelines, the university was required to investigate the reports and immediately take steps to prevent further harassment. But the university failed to do so. It admitted as much after Jameson detailed her experience on a blog in January 2018.

While Spear is on leave, the university says it will continue an internal review of the situation, engage an external consultant to "help leadership better understand what has happened," and hire "additional help" to address the workload of the university's Office of Civil Rights and Investigations.

Pete Isakson, associate athletic director, will be acting athletic director in Spear's absence.

"The goal is to make sure we better understand this situation and how we can both learn from our mistakes and become a leader in responsiveness and transparency," Staben says.

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.