University of Idaho president to leave after next school year

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University of Idaho president Chuck Staben will leave his position following the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

“I am writing today to tell you that the Idaho State Board of Education and I have mutually decided that the 2018-19 academic year will be my last as president of the University of Idaho,” Staben said in a letter to faculty, staff and students issued Friday.

This will make the second vacancy in a major state university, as the board is also searching for a new president at Boise State.

The decision comes shortly after Staben placed U of I Athletic Director Rob Spear on paid administrative leave during an investigation into the handling of several sexual assault allegations within athletics.

In his letter, Staben said these decisions were unrelated.

“While the timing of this announcement coincides with the review of past handling of sexual assault allegations in athletics, this decision is unrelated,” he said, adding the university would get results from the review soon.

Instead, Staben listed several challenges that seem to have been a major source of conflict.

Among those was pursuing a presidency at the University of New Mexico.

“My decision to pursue a presidency at another university caused a distraction,” Staben said.

Other “challenges” he listed included decisions to cut several of the school’s athletic programs. His move in 2016 to send the football team to the Big Sky Conference instead of the more prestigious Sun Belt.

In a statement issued Friday, the Idaho State Board of Education said the decision was mutual.

“The Board and President Staben agree this is the proper course to take and his contract, which expires next spring will not be renewed,” said State Board President Dr. Linda Clark.

Now, the board will focus on finding new presidents for the U of I and Boise, she said.

They are looking to determine a hiring firm to find replacements for the two vacancies, after which a timeline for the president searches will be announced.

“President Staben has led the University of Idaho since 2014 and on behalf of the board, I thank him for his service and I wish him the best,” Clark said.