FAT MEMBERS NEVER HAD $80,000 TO WITHHOLD

Idaho State Football Alumni Team garageLucas Gebhart

Sports Editor 

The $80,000 that members of the Football Alumni Team (FAT) told the Idaho State Journal earlier this month they would  withhold from the school until President Author Vailas and Athletic Director Jeff Tingey were removed, was in the form of a fund-raising account that already belonged to the university and was worth $58,000 instead of $80,000.

What was originally two accounts, one of which was in the form of an endowment, has now been combined into one and is in the form of a scholarship endowment that is being used to fund scholarships for football players that totals about $150,000.

“There was no $80,000,” said FAT president Don Neves. “I don’t know where that came from.”

Idaho State University Associate Vice President of Development, Pauline Thiros, who is responsible for fund raising at Idaho State, said the relationship between FAT and the athletic department is in good standing and the opinions that were held by some in the group, did not reflect that of all members.

According to the Idaho State Journal, 14 members of the FAT board voted unanimously to withhold the funds until Vailas and Tingey were removed from their positions, blaming Vailas as being ultimately responsible for what they called a failing athletic department.

Among the people who signed an op-ed piece run in the Idaho State Journal earlier this month were FAT board members and ISU Hall of Famers, Jason Whitmer and national champion quarterback Mike Machurek. Well-known car dealer Phil Meador also signed the opinion piece and told The Bengal his frustration level was at an eight on a scale of one to 10.

“In truth, we believe the state of ISU athletics is at an all-time low,” the piece read. “When comparing ISU to its Big Sky peers, it’s easy to see that ISU is at the bottom of the league in facilities.”

The athletic department has raised more than $7.5 million under Tingey, which according to Thiros, includes the $150,000 currently in the form of the endowment fund.

Under Tingey, a new football practice facility was built, new softball locker rooms were added last season, a new scoreboard and lighting in Holt Arena were added, Reed Gym and Holt Arena have seen newly surfaced basketball floors and plans for a new $20 million basketball arena and the resurfacing of the track at Davis Field are in the works.

“I can’t think of an AD that has raised a significant amount of money in the history of ISU,” Vailas said.

Other issues FAT members had were that Tingey was young and had little prior job experience prior to assuming his position and that he was hired because his father was a vice president at the university. They also cited that Tingey should not have had his contract extended and did not deserve the $6,000 raise he was given.

“The real truth is, his father didn’t want him to take the job,” Vailas said. “Jeff grew up here. When you have a high job in a place where you grew up in, you are not going to be given a fair shake about anything because they still remember you from high school or wherever. His dad wanted him to move on. I hired him completely, I disagreed with his father.”

According to Stuart Summers, Associate Vice President of Communications, Tingey was an assistant athletic director at Weber State and Brigham Young. 

Vailas said he extended his contract so the next president could decide if they wanted Tingey as the athletic director. Vailas said he had been planning his retirement for years and said that the op-ed piece had nothing to do with his retirement. Vailas’ last day will be June 17, 2018. Tingey’s current contract expires in June of 2019.

The controversy did spark meetings between Tingey and members of FAT, which were resolved last week. Tingey said he didn’t want to publicly comment on the matter and that both sides are ready to move forward.

“Some people had some issues, but we have sat down and discussed and come to a general agreement,” Neves said. “That is pretty much where we are going.”

According to Neves, the endowment is set up to pay for scholarships for football players and that most of the money is raised by an annual golf tournament. Neves hopes to have the endowment fund, which is now in its fourth year up to $200,000 by next year.

“It was never Don’s intention to have those funds not go to the endowment,” Thiros said. “That was a group of guys, for, who knows why they say things to the newspaper.”

Thiros said that she thinks that FAT will place money in the endowment fund moving forward.

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