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Sports >  NCAA football

Idaho State football player files complaint against coaches

Jan. 9, 2019 Updated Wed., Jan. 9, 2019 at 2:47 p.m.

Idaho State head coach Rob Phenicie, right, after his team's upset win over Nevada in their NCAA college football game Saturday, September 16, 2017 in Reno, Nev. (Tom R. Smedes / AP)
Idaho State head coach Rob Phenicie, right, after his team's upset win over Nevada in their NCAA college football game Saturday, September 16, 2017 in Reno, Nev. (Tom R. Smedes / AP)
Associated Press

POCATELLO, Idaho – Idaho State University is investigating allegations of physical abuse and inappropriate communication by its football coaches.

Idaho State safety Jayson Miller filed a formal complaint with the university on Nov. 14. Miller says head coach Rob Phenicie twice hammer-punched his shoulder, and assistant coach Jay Staggs sent Miller and other players inappropriate text messages.

The university issued a release Tuesday about Miller’s complaint that outlined his allegations in detail.

Idaho State removed Staggs from his position as a result of the school’s investigation into Miller’s complaint. Staggs had subsequently been hired as an assistant at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. However, Carroll College issued a release Tuesday saying Staggs was no longer employed by the school.

No action has been taken against Phenicie while the investigation is ongoing, university officials said.

“Placing an employee on administrative leave during an investigation is done on a case-by-case basis, and the decision is made when the university perceives the employee to be an ongoing threat to campus, disruptive to university business, or their presence would interfere with the investigatory process,” spokesman Stuart Summers said. “Related to this incident, the university did not place an employee on administrative leave because the situation did not meet that criteria.”

Phenicie hammer-punched Miller on his shoulder pads during halftime of the Idaho State’s game Nov. 10, 2018, at Cal Poly, according to Miller. When Miller asked Phenicie not to have any more physical contact with him, Phenicie hammer punched him again, Miller claims.

Miller said he was hammer-punched hard enough that his shoulder had visible bruises.

Miller said that when he later talked to Phenicie about the incident, Phenicie discussed options for Miller to transfer to another school.

The Cal Poly University Police Department says it has launched an investigation into the incident following a complaint by Miller.

Phenicie could not be reached for comment about the allegations.

“Idaho State University takes all allegations of physical assault extremely seriously,” Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee said in the statement. “The experience of our student-athletes is important to us. When our university receives a complaint, we will have the matter thoroughly investigated.”

Idaho State is still investigating the punching incident. But the university has already removed Staggs for his alleged text messages sent this past fall to Miller and other players that had inappropriate “race and gender-based themes,” according to the university. “That represents a culture we do not find acceptable in our programs and goes against everything our university supports,” Satterlee said.

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