Idaho AD Fired Over Treatment of Female Athletes

Andy Berg Headshot

The Idaho State Board of Education has fired University of Idaho athletic director Rob Spear following allegations that he mishandled a sexual assault case and mismanaged female student-athletes.

Spear’s dismissal comes after former UI diver Mairin Jameson published a blog post almost seven months ago, wherein she questioned how Spear dealt with female student-athletes, including his dismissal of her complaints that she’d been sexually assaulted by a UI football player. The post prompted a number of other women to come forward with complaints against Spear. 

According to the Idaho Statesman, a total of eight UI female athletes expressed concerns with Spear’s leadership. The student senate in April put its full support behind a resolution asking for Spear’s resignation.

“It’s so powerful to me,” Jameson told the Statesman. “It doesn’t surprise me that there were other stories like mine. ... When I first started this, (Spear’s removal) wasn’t my intent or my goal, but the more I learned, the more I realized this was the right thing for the University of Idaho.”

The State Board found shortcomings in the way the university provided training and notification of policy changes that contributed to the athletic department’s mishandling of Jameson’s complaint against football player Jahrie Level. The report also found fault in the way Spear handled Jameson’s case, and how he communicated with her parents.

Spear was also accused of using intimidation tactics with student-athletes. Former distance runner Hannah Kiser accused Spear of telling her that she wouldn’t get into the Vandals’ hall of fame if she transferred to Washington State for her final season. Spear ended up blocking her transfer, but she left UI anyway and ended her running career.

Kiser wrote to the State Board this week, encouraging them to listen to the women who have come forward. “I was very overjoyed to hear that he was fired,” Kiser said. “The voices of all the women who came forward were not just ignored, which often happens. But it’s just the beginning of culture change at Idaho and more transparency. It’s going to take a lot of time for people to forgive everything that has happened to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if more stories come out now that the fear of Rob being reinstated is gone. And I hope people do come forward, because it’s important to have your voice and your story heard.” 

Spear had been with UI since 1989, taking on the position of interim AD in October 2003 and the full-time job in January 2004. The Statesman reported that his latest contract paid $196,958 per year through Feb. 17, 2020, including supplemental income. He will be paid based on a $181,958.40 salary, but that amount will be offset by any income he receives from employment in the meantime, according to his contract.

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