State Colleges

Idaho State boosters: Fire school president, AD — or kiss $80,000 goodbye

Idaho State wide receiver KW Williams, center, has a pass knocked away by Oregon State cornerback Dwayne Williams last season in Corvallis, Ore. Idaho State has played two money games against FBS opponents every year since Jeff Tingey became the Bengals’ athletic director in 2009.
Idaho State wide receiver KW Williams, center, has a pass knocked away by Oregon State cornerback Dwayne Williams last season in Corvallis, Ore. Idaho State has played two money games against FBS opponents every year since Jeff Tingey became the Bengals’ athletic director in 2009. The Associated Press

The Idaho State booster club has seen enough.

In an op-ed published in the Idaho State Journal on Sunday, the Idaho State Football Alumni Team threatened to withhold nearly $80,000 in donations if Idaho State doesn’t fire the school’s president and athletic director.

“Eight years is enough,” the op-ed stated. “ISU athletics will continue to fail in comparison to Big Sky peers until the tenure of (President Arthur) Vailas and (Athletic Director) Jeff Tingey is up. It can’t come soon enough.”

Jason Whitmer, a board member of the booster club known as FAT, told the Journal on Monday the 14-member board of the booster club voted unanimously to withhold funds from Idaho State until it removed Vailas and Tingey.

“We are in an eight-year downhill skid,” Whitmer, a member of Idaho State’s hall of fame, told the Journal. “Sometimes, it has to get worse before it gets better. Our mission is 100 percent for the kids, but we can’t continue on down this path for another minute.”

The Idaho State football team has struggled during Tingey’s eight-year tenure as athletic director, compiling a 20-70 (.222) overall record and an 11-53 (.172) record in the Big Sky. The Bengals posted one winning season in 2014, and the program parted ways with former football coach Mike Kramer this past spring after six years.

Idaho State will continue to pay the one year remaining on Kramer’s contract for $164,000.

The Bengals men’s basketball team also has struggled under Tingey, posting just one winning season and going 70-169 (.293) overall and 46-96 (.324) in the Big Sky.

Tingey received a two-year contract extension and an annual base salary raise to $150,467 in June. Tingey is the son of Kent Tingey, Idaho State’s vice president for university advancement. Vailas also received a raise in June from the State Board of Education.

Tingey refuted many of the op-ed column’s claims — that Idaho State has the lowest athletic budget in the Big Sky, that the program hasn’t made any renovations to Holt Arena and that a lack of fundraising will cost the school the right to host the 2022 Big Sky track championship.

“That op-ed piece (Sunday) was very misleading,” Tingey told the Journal on Monday. “It skipped over the truth in a lot of places and cited sources that I really question because they were blatantly false.”

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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