Idaho athletic director placed on 60-day leave

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) Idaho athletic director Rob Spear was placed on administrative leave Tuesday for 60 days as school officials investigate concerns that he mishandled some past reports of sexual harassment involving student-athletes.

School President Chuck Staben said officials are trying to understand failures to act on sexual harassment complaints made in 2012 and 2013.

”We have a responsibility to provide our students, and our student-athletes, with the best college experience and the most support possible,” Staben said in a press release.

Spear did not immediately return a telephone call and an email seeking comment.

The university said it will continue its internal review and bring in an outside investigator.

Associate athletic director Pete Isakson will serve as acting athletic director.

According to published reports, the incidents involve two female athletes and a female student who reported several instances of harassment by a football player to athletic department staff and to the police.

The Idaho Statesman newspaper in early March reported missteps in the handling of a female diver’s April 2013 complaint against a football player, which included accusations of sexual assault, unwanted physical contact and verbal harassment. The newspaper said Spear did not report the incident to the office of the dean of students.

The newspaper also reported that the university missed two warning signs: a female distance runner telling football officials that the same football player had threatened her two weeks before; also, a third female student was hospitalized with extensive bruises and a very high blood alcohol content after drinking with the same football player in November 2012. The newspaper said the three incidents do not appear to have been connected until this year despite university notification in each case.

”Understanding how we’ve handled situations in the past and how we can improve is essential,” Staben said.