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Staben: Athletics will operate at deficit

The Idaho State Board of Education named five finalists for the position of University of Idaho President on Wednesday morning. Current UI President Chuck Staben’s contract expires June 15 and the ISBE has elected not to renew it. (Melissa Hartley)
By Garrett Cabeza Moscow-Pullman Daily News

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben said during a UI faculty meeting Wednesday the Athletics Department will continue to operate at a deficit this year.

Staben said the department closed the current fiscal year with a roughly $750,000 deficit.

“We anticipate a significant deficit again this year and, therefore, we continue to have a considerable challenge,” Staben said.

He said he has asked Interim Athletic Director Pete Isakson and Vice President for Finance Brian Foisy to develop a long-term plan to close the deficit.

Isakson has served as the acting athletic director since Rob Spear was placed on administrative leave in April.

The Idaho State Board of Education fired Spear last month over his handling of sexual assault complaints from female athletes.

The university will continue to pay Spear’s $181,958.40 annual salary through February 2020, but that amount will be offset by any income he receives from employment in the meantime.

Staben said he does not intend to appoint an athletic director during his final months as president.

“I believe that’s a task best left for the next president,” Staben said.

Staben and the ISBOE mutually agreed in May that the 2018-19 academic year will be Staben’s last as UI president.

Staben’s contract runs through June 15 and pays $385,230 annually.

Staben admitted Wednesday the past year has been “challenging.”

“This is the last year of my presidency,” Staben said. “To me, it means that I want to ensure that this is a successful year for the university and that it’s a year that positions us for the future. I care deeply about public higher education. I care deeply about the University of Idaho, and I want to keep moving us forward.”

Staben also noted:

Enrollment this semester likely slightly decreased, but the final numbers have not been tallied.

UI student-athletes achieved a school-record 3.24 GPA last year. He said many Vandal coaches made impressive strides in improving the academic progress rate and graduation success rate.