Gov. Butch Otter issued a formal news release Wednesday saying he won’t step in to make sure that the football teams at Boise State University (BSU) and the University of Idaho (U of I) will keep playing one another after this year.
“As a football fan and an Idahoan, I’d like to see the series continue,” Otter said. “As governor, I have no authority, no role and no interest in micromanaging our universities’ football programs. That’s why we hire university presidents, athletic directors, and coaches. I have every confidence that they’ll work things out.”
BSU will switch athletic conferences after this school year, going from the Western Athletic Conference, which U of I is currently in, to the Mountain West Conferences. With the schools in different conferences, an annual game is no longer guaranteed, though both teams could still schedule a matchup.
The presidents of both universities have made public comments in the past few days regarding the rivalry between the Broncos and the Vandals. BSU president Bob Kustra told the Idaho Statesman that he didn’t care if the Broncos played the Vandals, and said that the Moscow campus has a culture that is nasty toward BSU and inebriated.
U of I President Duane Nellis posted a statement on Facebook that he wanted the football games to continue. “In-state rivalries are meant to be fun,” Nellis said. “Our long-time rivalry with BSU is important to the state, the economy, and the fans from both teams. We embrace and celebrate that rivalry and I very much hope it continues.” Nellis alos said he was sorry to hear that Kustra felt so negatively about his time in Moscow attending the rivalry games.
Kustra and Nellis are two of the three highest-paid state employees in the state. The highest-paid is BSU football coach Chris Petersen, who signed a new contract earlier this year. Vandals coach Robb Akey also signed a new contract this year, and, along with the other three men, will earn more than $300,000 a year.
The universities’ rivalry loomed during the recent legislative session at the state Capitol. Both schools’ football teams garnered recognition from lawmakers and Otter for their bowl game victories, and scores from the men’s basketball games were announced on the floor of the Idaho Senate by lawmakers who graduated from the universities.