Idaho Vandals

University of Idaho won’t hire a new athletic director until president leaves

The University of Idaho’s Administration Building in Moscow.
The University of Idaho’s Administration Building in Moscow. Statesman file

Pete Isakson will serve as interim athletic director at the University of Idaho at least until next summer, outgoing President Chuck Staben announced Friday.

Isakson was named acting athletic director April 3 when Rob Spear was placed on administrative leave. Spear was fired by the State Board of Education on Aug. 16.

Staben named Isakson interim athletic director on Friday.

“It is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our athletics department and the university that the next president select a permanent athletic director,” Staben wrote in a letter to the university community. “Therefore, Pete’s appointment will be indefinite, through the remainder of my presidency.”

Staben and the State Board agreed that the president’s contract wouldn’t be extended beyond June 15, 2019. The search for his replacement is in the early stages.

Isaskon had been the associate athletic director for revenue generation under Spear since 2017. He worked in the Idaho athletic department previously and earned a master’s degree from the school.

Isakson returned to Idaho last year after working at Washington State for 14 years. He inherits a pressing need to solve a budget deficit that has the university considering either cutting sports or adding limited-scholarship sports that would increase university enrollment.

“A top priority for Pete is progress on the department’s budget challenges,” Staben wrote. “... The intersection of institutional and departmental revenue, State Board policy and NCAA-required scholarship distribution is complicated. We plan to engage external support to ensure we position the department for long-term stability and success.”