Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear has been put on administrative leave for 60 days as the university investigates his handling of sexual assault complaints

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University of Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear has been put on administrative leave for 60 days while investigators and university leadership work to better understand process failures in reporting sexual assault complaints in 2012 and 2013, what has been done since then, and what should be done in the future.

“This is a challenging day,” Idaho President Chuck Staben said. “But understanding how we’ve handled situations in the past and how we can improve is essential. We have a responsibility to provide our students, and our student-athletes, with the best college experience and the most support possible. We are committed to meeting these expectations.”

In the interim, Pete Isakson, associate athletic director, will serve as acting athletic director for day-to-day operations. Brian Foisy, vice president for finance and administration, will work with the athletics business office to manage the finance functions of the department.

Questions about Spears’ conduct arose after a Tumblr blog post surfaced in January in which former Vandals diver Mairin Jameson said she and distance runner Maggie Miller reported six instances of harassment by Jahrie Level, a UI wide receiver at the time, to Moscow Police and athletics department officials.

Jameson claims Spear did not report the claims to the dean of students, and said Spear told her the UI could not investigate an inappropriate touching incident involving Level because it occurred off campus.

However, some Idaho athletes, coaches and Staben have since come to Spear’s defense, characterizing him as a forward-thinking campus leader in promoting student safety.

 

During the review period, the university will take several actions to address the importance of safety, improved responsiveness and accountability. These include:

  • Continuing an internal review and engaging an external investigator regarding behaviors of concern.
  • Engaging an external consultant to help leadership better understand what has happened and bolster the training and support of sexual assault prevention, reporting and response throughout the university, with the goal of creating and maintaining an inclusive community where students feel supported for as long as they are part of the local community.
  • Hiring additional help to address the workload in the university’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations. Another position may be hired in the coming months. In the interim, this office will receive any additional support it needs.

At the end of the 60 days, the university will have more information on next steps.

“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 said.