Boise State president Bob Kustra said he stands behind football coach Chris Petersen's statement that his team should no longer travel to Moscow for games, Kustra said Tuesday in a meeting with the Idaho Statesman editorial board.
The future of the 40-year-old series is in doubt after this season's trip to Moscow, with Boise State headed to the Mountain West Conference in 2011, while the Vandals will continue in the Western Athletic Conference.
"I frankly don't care whether we ever play 'em again as long it goes,'' Kustra said. "I don't see any reason to do it in Boise, but if somebody sees a reason to do it in Boise, fine.
"I guess (Idaho football) coach (Robb) Akey would argue that if he upsets Boise State, then that's a really big deal, but why is that to Boise State's advantage?''
Petersen said Monday, while in Salt Lake City for the annual WAC preview meetings, "Why would we (go to Moscow)? I don't think our fans even like to go up there. Most of Idaho's fans are in Boise anyway.''
University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis said Tuesday he was “disappointed to learn of President Kustra’s reported remarks,” to the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board Tuesday.
“I’m sorry to hear that Bob feels so negatively about his visits to Moscow,” Nellis said in a statement issued to the Idaho Statesman Tuesday. “Both the University of Idaho and the city of Moscow take great pride in the friendly, welcoming and warm environment that a quintessential college town like ours can uniquely provide.”
“In-state rivalries are meant to be fun. Our long-time rivalry with BSU is important to the state, the economy, and the fans from both teams,” Nellis said. “We embrace and celebrate that rivalry and I very much hope it continues. It goes without saying that we value our relationship with Boise State both on the field and court and in the many ways in which our two institutions work together to serve our state and its citizens.”
Kustra said he and Petersen talked about the issue last month, on the same day Boise State was invited into the Mountain West. He said they are on the same page.
Kustra said it's a "cultural issue,'' pointing out an article last week in the Argonaut, the University of Idaho student newspaper. The headline of the article was, "Who do we hate?''
"This is a great example of why my wife and I no longer travel to Moscow games,'' Kustra said. "It's a culture that is nasty, inebriated and civilly doesn't give our fans the respect that any fan should expect when visiting an away team. ... I don't think at Boise State you're going to find that, so for me personally, when I read what Pete said I knew, I knew.
"For me, this is not about football. For me, this is a cultural issue. It's about fans having to learn how to treat other fans and universities. What bothers me more than anything else, is that the fans are not about denigrating our athletic program. ... What bothers me personally is the denigration of our academic programming. That's what I simply can't tolerate.
"I've seen rivalries all over America, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Kansas State, but you can go inside those rivalries and you'll find all kinds of slams and digs and whatever, but I've never seen the nastiness aimed at the quality of our academic program that I find here in Idaho from the University of Idaho Vandals and as long as that goes on, why would I want to encourage a game where people don't know how to act like grownups?''
Nellis said “Bob is right that athletic rivalries bring out passion in people for their alma maters; I’ve seen this first-hand between national rivals like West Virginia and Pitt, or Kansas and Kansas State. And I’ve experienced this here in our own state – both positive and negative."
A U of I spokeswoman pointed to a website in which Bronco fans talked about all the ways they hate the Vandals.
“People with passion for their institution can say and do things that they regret," Nellis said in the release. "It’s unfortunate that this happens and all of our institutions should work to ensure that we don’t accept this unacceptable rhetoric. Late last week, I reached out to Bob to let him know that I was personally disappointed in the student opinion piece published by our student-run newspaper. I shared that disappointment with the Argonaut editorial board as well.”