Spear speaks to U of I students
The University of Idaho on Thursday extended Athletic Director Rob Spear's paid administrative leave indefinitely to complete its investigation into the department's handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints.
The leave will last until the "external review into how the athletics department handled past allegations of sexual assault is completed, the report has been reviewed and a decision is made on Spear’s employment status," the university said in a press release. The university has hired two outside investigators.
"It is never easy to examine one’s own actions critically,” U of I President Chuck Staben said in the release. “We know we have made improvements in how we approach sexual assault allegations but we need to know that we are doing all we can to keep our students safe. That is our No. 1 priority.”
Spear was placed on the initial 60-day leave April 3, the day before the ASUI student senate voted 10-5 to ask for his resignation. The leave was set to expire late this week. Spear, through his attorney, declined to address Thursday's action because he isn't allowed to comment on university business.
Spear came under fire after the Idaho Statesman reported on complaints by three different women, including two student-athletes, against a single football player in 2012-13. The university and Spear have acknowledged that Title IX policy wasn't followed when diver Mairin Jameson accused the football player, Jahrie Level, of sexual assault in April 2013. Level was dismissed from the team when a surveillance video surfaced backing Jameson's allegation.
Spear was placed on leave after the Statesman reported about the third case involving Level, which predated the other two. All three were reported to school officials and Moscow Police at the time.
“What concerns me about what happened in 2013 is that – and certainly we’ve admitted this, Rob has admitted this – we did not follow our own policy at that time,” Staben said in April, “and also not thinking about how we can best serve our student at that time, Ms. Jameson, for example. That concerns me, because we should think about our students and we should follow our policy.”
Spear has cited confusing policies and a lack of Title IX training while discussing his actions in 2012-13. He has said he didn't know until this year about the first case involving Level in November 2012 or that distance runner Maggie Miller had called Moscow Police in April 2013 to accuse Level of making a threat.
While Spear has been on leave, the State Board of Education announced that it wouldn't renew Staben's contract beyond 2018-19. Fourteen boosters signed a letter to the State Board suggesting Staben be removed from office, with his handling of Spear's situation among the complaints. Staben wasn't at Idaho in 2012-13.