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Eye On Boise

Guv ‘won’t intervene’ in UI-BSU football spat

Gov. Butch Otter just issued this press release:                                                        


(BOISE) – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today about the controversy surrounding continuation of the football series between the University of Idaho and Boise State University after the 2010 season: “As a football fan and an Idahoan, I’d like to see the series continue. As Governor, I have no authority, no role and no interest in micromanaging our universities’ football programs. That’s why we hire university presidents, athletic directors and coaches. I have every confidence that they’ll work things out.”

This after a big clash over BSU President Bob Kustra's comment to the Idaho Statesman's editorial board yesterday that he didn't care if the BSU Broncos never played the UI Vandals again, given Vandal fans' trashing of BSU's academic programs. "I frankly don't care whether we ever play 'em again," Kustra told the newspaper. "It's a culture that is nasty, inebriated and civilly doesn't give our fans the respect that any fan should expect when visiting an away team." UI President Duane Nellis then responded in a statement that he was "disappointed" at Kustra's remarks, and that "in-state rivalries are meant to be fun." By last night, Kustra had issued a statement saying his comments were "harsher than I intended" and that he plans to leave football scheduling decisions to athletic officials. Click below to read the full statements from both Nellis and Kustra.

University of Idaho Statement from President Duane Nellis about School Rivalry

The following is a statement from University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis on the subject of school and athletic rivalry:

“I was disappointed to learn of President Kustra’s reported remarks during his meeting with the Idaho Statesman editorial board. I’m sorry to hear that Bob feels so negatively about his visits to Moscow.  Both the University of Idaho and the city of Moscow take great pride in the friendly, welcoming and warm environment that a quintessential college town like ours can uniquely provide.

“Bob is right that athletic rivalries bring out passion in people for their alma maters; I’ve seen this first-hand between national rivals like West Virginia and Pitt, or Kansas and Kansas State. And I’ve experienced this here in our own state – both positive and negative. People with passion for their institution can say and do things that they regret. It’s unfortunate that this happens and all of our institutions should work to ensure that we don’t accept this unacceptable rhetoric.  Late last week, I reached out to Bob to let him know that I was personally disappointed in the student opinion piece published by our student-run newspaper. I shared that disappointment with the Argonaut editorial board as well.

“In-state rivalries are meant to be fun.  Our long-time rivalry with BSU is important to the state, the economy, and the fans from both teams.  We embrace and celebrate that rivalry and I very much hope it continues.  It goes without saying that we value our relationship with Boise State both on the field and court and in the many ways in which our two institutions work together to serve our state and its citizens.”

Statement from Dr. Robert Kustra, President, Boise State University

"During an editorial board meeting with the Idaho Statesman, I was asked to comment on Coach Petersen’s statements from the WAC media day regarding the future of the Boise State-Idaho rivalry game. I agree with the Coach in this matter that if the game continues, it should be held in Boise and not a home and home series. I think there are good reasons for that position.

I’m afraid their questions hit a sore spot, however, as someone had sent me the recent “Reasons to Hate Boise State” article from the U of I student newspaper.   It troubles me that the occasion of an annual football game causes the air waves and Internet to be full of disparagement of Boise State’s students, faculty and programs, year after year.  I have tremendous pride in Boise State, and my response was harsher than I intended.

I have enjoyed my working relationship with U of I’s president, Dr. Duane Nellis, and the friendship of many of the University of Idaho’s alumni in the Valley.  I think Idaho’s universities are working together better than ever, thanks in no small measure to the encouragement and leadership of the members of the State Board of Education.
I hope that all of us can demonstrate civility and sportsmanship for the rivalry game this year and remember that the two universities share mutual goals of excellence in education, affordability, and pride as an Idaho institution of higher learning.  As it should be, I plan to leave the scheduling of football games to our very able athletic director, Gene Bleymaier, as I have for the past seven years."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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