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Decision on alcohol at Idaho Vandals games put on hold

UPDATED: Fri., June 16, 2017, 12:27 p.m.

Idaho Vandals wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor (1) blows past New Mexico State Aggies defensive back Jaden Wright (21) for a touchdown during a college football game on Saturday, Oct 15, 2016, at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Idaho Vandals wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor (1) blows past New Mexico State Aggies defensive back Jaden Wright (21) for a touchdown during a college football game on Saturday, Oct 15, 2016, at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Vandal football fans who pay for premium seating will have access to alcoholic beverages at games this season, but fans in general seating are on hold.

Idaho’s State Board of Education on Thursday removed from its agenda a request from the University of Idaho and Boise State University to allow general admission ticket holders at public universities to purchase alcohol at pregame events.

The board had been set to discuss and vote on the universities’ joint proposal, which would require a policy change, on its last day of a two-day meeting at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene.

But board spokesman Blake Youde said the proposal “wasn’t quite ready” for board members to have a public discussion about it.

“I wouldn’t read too much into it being pulled,” Youde said. “It needed some further refinement in drafting.”

Youde said the state board expects to consider the alcohol policy change at its Aug. 9-10 meetings in Pocatello, but the move would require two readings at two different meetings. After the August meeting, the board is next set to meet Oct. 18-19 at Lewis-Clark State College.

Meanwhile, the first Vandal home game against Sacramento State is scheduled for Aug. 31, and four of the school’s six home games will be played before the October meeting.

The board approved a waiver of its alcohol policy in 2015, allowing the universities to conduct pregame sales as a “pilot.” Though the schools reported no negative incidents related to the pregame alcohol sales that season, the board declined to allow the pilot program to continue.

Board policy currently stipulates alcohol can’t be served at such events on campus unless those attending have been issued a written invitation – and a game ticket does not count.

Earlier this week, UI spokeswoman Jodi Walker said many Vandal fans contacted the school to say they want to see the pregame sales in a designated portion of the “Fan Zone” return.

“We want an area where you don’t have to have a formal invitation,” Walker said. “(Where) being a ticket holder – a fan coming to the game – is enough to get you in.”

Seats in the dome’s Litehouse Center and Bud and June Ford Clubroom – where alcohol is served – start at $250 per ticket, plus a $1,750 Vandal Scholarship Fund membership.

Lewis-Clark State College saw its proposed Career Technical Education Center move to the next step when the board unanimously approved the project’s planning and design phase.

Thursday’s approval was for $1.55 million for planning the $20 million center that will be located off Warner Avenue in the Lewiston Orchards adjacent to the new Lewiston High School.

Half of the $20 million project is set to be covered by the state’s Permanent Building Fund, with the other $10 million coming from LCSC’s institutional funds, plus grants and donations.

A “self-support fee” of nearly $20,000 per student for an on-site option within the UI’s masters of natural resources degree program at the McCall Outdoor Science School got unanimous approval from the board.

Students in the one-year program will pay $19,805 to cover faculty and staff salaries, student travel for field trips and professional conferences, background checks, field equipment and infrastructure maintenance.

Other options within the masters of natural resources degree program are offered online or at the Moscow campus. The new Environmental Education and Science Communication option will be offered only in McCall.

Students in UI’s Greek system will pay an additional $50 per semester starting in the fall after the board approved the Greek Life program fee.

The estimated $160,000 annual revenue from the fee will be used to provide an additional support person for students in the Greek system as well as education on hazing, drugs, alcohol, student leadership, mental wellness, sexual harassment and bystander intervention.

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