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Student-athlete investigation concludes at Idaho State University

February 13, 2019

POCATELLO – Idaho State University has concluded its investigation into a student-athlete’s complaint outlining allegations of assault by a coach during an away game. The thorough investigation, launched immediately after receiving the complaint, found the allegations to be unsubstantiated. No disciplinary actions will be taken against the coach related to this matter.

“We are committed to the safety and well-being of all our students,” ISU President Kevin Satterlee said. “Idaho State University took these allegations very seriously, and we will always take steps to ensure a thorough and complete investigation informs our actions in these matters. When we identify areas of the University that need to be improved, we will always take that as an opportunity to provide a better environment for our students.”

On Nov. 14, ISU received a written complaint from a student-athlete alleging that he was hammer punched on his shoulder pads by a coach during halftime at the game against Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. The University immediately launched a full investigation conducted by the Office of Equity and Inclusion. As part of the impartial and comprehensive inquiry, ISU investigators interviewed coaches, student-athletes, and support staff. 

“I’ve had conversations with the coach about where we are taking this program and the excellence we are mutually committed to achieving,” Satterlee said. “We are collectively focused on continuing to build a football program which enhances the lives of our student-athletes, performs at a high level, and advances the mission of Idaho State. The administration, department, and coaches share the same vision, and together we will work hard to achieve that vision.”

Head Football Coach Rob Phenicie added, “We are developing a program the campus and our fans can be proud of. We will embrace every opportunity to get better. Our team is focused on continuing its positive trajectory. I appreciate the effort and commitment of every student-athlete, and they can expect the same exemplary commitment from our coaching staff. I recognize that every action matters as we work to achieve and sustain excellence.”

ISU continues a separate investigation into the actions of the Athletic Department regarding the student-athlete being misinformed about his eligibility status. In January, the University acknowledged that the Department of Athletics created the expectation for the student that he was a redshirt junior in 2018, when in fact he had participated in 2017 and a waiver had not been requested or approved by the Big Sky Conference or the NCAA. The student was misinformed about his status prior to the start of the fall 2018 season. The University has notified the student-athlete that his scholarship would be honored through May 2020.

“We have now put in place processes and communication protocols which would have prevented this circumstance from happening. Every student-athlete will be fully and accurately informed regarding their official status,” said Interim Athletic Director Pauline Thiros. “Idaho State Athletics will ensure student-athletes get the most out of the opportunities available to them in all of our programs. I am confident in Coach Phenicie’s ability to further build the culture we all desire.”

When the University receives an internal complaint, an initial inquiry into the matter is conducted by an office independent of where the incident occurred. In all investigative situations, trained investigators are assigned to the case, and relevant parties and witnesses are interviewed. After conducting interviews and collecting all related information, a final report is compiled. Final findings and recommendations are provided to University leadership.

Due to privacy laws, the University will not be able to comment further on the matter beyond this release.


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