SBD/August 11, 2011/Colleges

Boise State Fires AD Gene Bleymaier After 29 Years Amid NCAA Violations

Bleymaier suprised by firing after spending 29 years at Boise State
Boise State Univ. yesterday announced that it has "fired" AD Gene Bleymaier, bringing his 29-year tenure to a close in September, according to Chadd Cripe of the IDAHO STATESMAN. Bleymaier was "fired last week because Boise State President Bob Kustra determined he needed a new leader to help the Broncos overcome the stain of the school’s first NCAA major-infractions case." An interim AD "will be named and a national search held for a replacement." Bleymaier said, “I did not expect this. Obviously, I’m disappointed in the president’s decision.” Cripe notes Boise State "reported a major violation in women’s tennis after acknowledging dozens of minor violations in other sports, including impermissible housing, transportation and meals benefits for incoming football recruits." The university also was "charged with a lack of institutional control." Kustra in a statement "cited the NCAA violations as the motive for change." Bleymaier and his department "also were the targets of a gender-discrimination lawsuit" by former assistant track coach Amy Christoffersen that was "settled this summer" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 8/11). Bleymaier said that he "stands behind his handling of the infractions and the internal investigation that was done by the university." He added, "We have been commended regarding how we have handled the investigations and review from start to finish" (AP, 8/10). In Idaho, Brian Murphy reports there "have been signs of strife" in Kustra's relationship with Bleymaier. In a letter sent to Boise State boosters yesterday, Kustra "explained his decision, said he was vacationing in the Midwest, left them his cell phone number and said he was available at any time." Kustra indicated that he "would conduct a top-to-bottom review of the department after the NCAA case became public, another sign that he wasn’t willing to sweep Bleymaier’s involvement under the rug" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 8/11).

PARTY IN THE CHAMPAIGN ROOM: In Illinois, Mark Tupper reports the Univ. of Illinois yesterday introduced Mike Thomas as its new AD. Thomas, who had been in the same position at the Univ. of Cincinnati since '05, "replaces Ron Guenther, who retired July 1 after running the athletics department for 19 years." Thomas said that he "found out early Wednesday afternoon he had landed the job and a press conference was arranged less than two hours later." He indicated that he plans to be "on the job before the football opener Sept. 3." Tupper notes Thomas is "seen as a man with a keen sense of marketing," and yesterday he "talked about targeting Chicago." Thomas: "We want to wrap our arms around Chicago." IU President Michael Hogan "introduced Thomas and said one of his first assignments will be to become involved in the Assembly Hall renovation project." Thomas will be "paid $475,000 a year with an additional $100,000 a year in deferred compensation that he would receive if he remains on the job for five years" (Decatur HERALD & REVIEW, 8/11). UC President Dr. Gregory Williams "will appoint an interim director 'in the near future' to run the athletic department until he can hire a replacement" for Thomas. In Cincinnati, Bill Koch notes UC Deputy AD Bob Arkeilpane, who was AD at the Univ. at Buffalo for "five years before arriving at UC in 2005 with Thomas, would be a likely in-house candidate for the interim job" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 8/11).

STAY A LITTLE LONGER: The Univ. of Colorado Board of Regents yesterday "unanimously approved a five-year contract extension for Athletic Director Mike Bohn and added a new bonus structure that will allow him to earn up to 54 percent more in incentive pay." The new contract runs through the '15-16 academic year. Bohn's base salary of $297,000 "will remain the same, but he is eligible to earn up to $154,000 in annual performance bonuses." Bohn had been "one of the lowest-paid athletic directors in the Big 12, but his annual salary ranks in the middle of the Pac-12" (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 8/11).
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