POCATELLO — Idaho State University Athletic Director Jeff Tingey has been relieved of his duties but will continue to be paid his full salary until June 2019, according to ISU spokesman Stuart Summers.
“During the course of an operational review of the Idaho State Athletic Department, President Kevin Satterlee felt that it was in the best interest of the university to place Tingey on administrative leave,” Summers said in a Friday press release. “The university will announce an interim athletic director soon.”
Tingey was placed on administrative leave around 5 p.m. Friday, Summers told the Journal during a Friday night phone interview. The announcement came just a week before the start of the ISU football season. Tingey will continue to receive his annual salary of $150,467 until his contract expires in June 2019 while on paid administrative leave, ISU said.
Summers would not comment on whether Tingey would still be employed at ISU after June 2019.
When contacted by the Journal on Friday, Tingey declined to comment. Tingey's father, longtime ISU Vice President for University Advancement Kent Tingey, was unavailable for comment.
Jeff Tingey's removal from his athletic director position is the first big staff change made by Satterlee since he became ISU's president in June.
It’s unclear what the school uncovered during its operational review of the Athletic Department, but placing an employee on paid administrative leave does not always mean the employee will face disciplinary action, according to ISU policy.
Summers said ISU is not considering any disciplinary action against Jeff Tingey at this time.
Jeff Tingey has been ISU’s athletic director since July 1, 2009, after serving as the school’s acting athletic director from March 2008 to June 2008 and interim athletic director from July 2008 to June 2009.
Jeff Tingey first joined ISU as the assistant athletic director for marketing and corporate sales in 2007.
He signed a two-year contract extension to remain the athletic director in June of last year. The multi-year agreement was set to expire on June 29, 2019. Jeff Tingey and former ISU President Arthur Vailas signed the new contract on June 19, 2017. With the contract extension, Jeff Tingey received a raise of nearly $6,000 per year.
As athletic director, Jeff Tingey received both praise and criticism.
He has been lauded for reversing the financial debt of ISU’s Athletic Department, turning around an $800,000 deficit he inherited when he was named athletic director, as well as stabilizing ISU’s Academic Progress Rate or APR scores and making significant upgrades to multiple campus athletics facilities. ISU posted an institution-best four-year average APR of 980 in 2016. A perfect score is 1,000.
Jeff Tingey has also come under scrutiny.
In 2017, the Bengals football team suffered its eighth losing season since Jeff Tingey took over as athletic director, yet he did not immediately part ways with head coach Mike Kramer, who oversaw five losing seasons in his six years at ISU. Kramer then abruptly retired on March 30, 2017, with one year remaining on his contract, but Jeff Tingey said Kramer would not have returned as head coach if he had not retired.
The men’s basketball team, like the football team, has had one winning season during Jeff Tingey’s time as athletic director. The team’s ongoing scheduling and facilities conflicts force a seasonal switch between playing home games at ISU's Reed Gym and Holt Arena.
Jeff Tingey also announced plans to build a 4,000-seat, $20 million basketball arena in May 2015, but funds for the facility have never materialized.
Meanwhile the Chubbuck-based Idaho Central Credit Union announced in January that it would donate $10 million for the naming rights for the basketball arena being built by the University of Idaho in Moscow. When asked why ICCU wasn't making such a donation for ISU's basketball arena, the credit union said ISU had never asked it for the funds.
Last August, the Idaho State Football Alumni Team, better known as the F.A.T. Club, threatened to withhold nearly $80,000 in donations if Jeff Tingey and Vailas weren't fired. Eleven boosters and notable alumni, which included ISU Hall of Fame inductees and F.A.T. board members, signed an op-ed published in the Journal calling for administrative changes.
Vailas retired from ISU this past June.
Earlier this year, Jeff Tingey told the Journal that one of the biggest difficulties for ISU’s Athletic Department is managing money.
“The challenge that’s never-ending is the finances of an athletic department,” Jeff Tingey said in April. “That’s something that a new president, a CEO, will have to deal with, and I’m sure he’ll hit it head-on.”
Idaho State Journal Sports Editor Madison Guernsey contributed to this report.