Idaho Vandals

Email sheds new light on U of I transfer meeting

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben addresses the student government in March.
University of Idaho President Chuck Staben addresses the student government in March.

Aug. 16 update: University of Idaho President Chuck Staben on Thursday sent an email to former distance runner Hannah Kiser that indicates a meeting to reconsider her appeal of a transfer decision took place. Three members of the committee previously said they didn’t remember the 2014 meeting.

An email from committee chairman Mario Reyes to Staben, dated Aug. 13, 2014, said the committee met that day to reconsider Kiser’s transfer request. The email was provided to the Idaho Statesman by Kiser.

“After an hour-long discussion, the committee decided to stand by its original decision to deny her request to contact other schools, particularly Washington State University,” Reyes’ email says.

The story below was published Aug. 10, 2018, under the headline, “U of I president emailed athlete results of meeting that apparently never happened”

Former University of Idaho All-America distance runner Hannah Kiser met with President Chuck Staben in August 2014 in a last-ditch attempt to overturn the athletic department’s refusal to let her transfer.

They met Aug. 11.

Nine days later, Staben emailed Kiser to say that he requested that the university’s appeals committee reconvene “to reconsider your request.” He wasn’t sure, he said, if they were fully aware that she was interested in a specific graduate program at Washington State that wasn’t available at Idaho.

“They met, considered this information, and upheld their original decision, which denied you permission to contact other schools,” Staben wrote in the Aug. 20 email.

That meeting apparently never happened. The Idaho Statesman this week contacted three of the four living members of the committee that ruled 4-1 against Kiser, including chairman Mario Reyes. None of them remember reconsidering the decision. The fourth member couldn’t be reached.

“If they (met), I wasn’t there,” said Sharon Stoll, who is the director of the Center for ETHICS at U of I.

Added assistant professor Justin Barnes: “As I recall, the committee never reconsidered or had the opportunity to reconsider its decision.”

Kiser, a 20-time WAC champion, already had her bachelor’s degree and sought permission to contact Washington State, where Idaho’s coaches had just moved. She was denied permission repeatedly and never competed her final indoor and outdoor track seasons.

Staben followed up Aug. 25 with another email reiterating that he asked the chairman “to reconvene the original committee” to see if the academic information “would change their decision.”

“It did not, and they made the final decision on behalf of the university,” Staben wrote.

The Aug. 25 email was in response to a message from Kiser asking for details of the second committee meeting and the reason for the denial. Her questions weren’t answered.

“I am finding it hard to believe that a final decision could have been made without me present to defend myself,” she wrote. “Was it the same committee that met with me originally? What was the final vote for the second ruling?”

U of I spokeswoman Jodi Walker was unable to explain the discrepancy between Staben’s emails and the committee members’ recollection. Staben took office March 1, 2014.

Kiser pointed out in her meeting with Staben that Kansas State tried to prevent women’s basketball player Leticia Romero from transferring earlier in 2014. Romero had lost her appeal, which the university considered final. After the case received media attention, the university changed its policy and released Romero.

“I showed him, there is action you can take,” Kiser said.

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