ISU Athletic Director Jeff Tingey relieved of duties but still getting full $150K salary
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 in any capacity after June 2019.
When contacted by the Journal on Friday night, Tingey declined to comment about Satterlee’s decision to relieve him of his duties and place him on leave. 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 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. He first joined ISU as the assistant athletic director for marketing and corporate sales in 2007.
Jeff Tingey agreed to a two-year contract extension to continue as the university’s athletic director on June 19 of last year, 11 days before his previous multi-year agreement expired. With the contract extension, Jeff Tingey received a raise of nearly $6,000 per year.
As ISU’s athletic director, Jeff Tingey has received both praise and criticism.
He has been lauded for reversing the financial debt of ISU’s Athletic Department, turning around the $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 athletic facilities. ISU posted a four-year average APR of 980 in 2016 — the best score the university has ever recorded. A perfect score is 1,000. APR measures the academic performance of student-athletes.
In 2014, Jeff Tingey was one of seven finalists to be hired as the athletic director at North Dakota State University, but he was not offered the job.
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 to the surprise of many 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 it had collected for ISU if Jeff Tingey and then ISU President Arthur Vailas weren’t fired. Shortly thereafter 11 boosters and notable alumni, which included ISU Hall of Fame inductees and F.A.T. board members, wrote an opinion column published in the Journa l calling for administrative changes at the university.
Vailas retired from ISU this past June.
Jeff Tingey’s tenure at ISU has also been mired in controversy.
In 2016, members of the ISU softball team alleged they were being bullied by their teammates. ISU responded by conducting an internal investigation that concluded there was no bullying within the team.
The same year, ISU tennis player Orin Duffin filed a harassment lawsuit against Jeff Tingey and the university, alleging Duffin was discriminated against because of his Mormon faith. That lawsuit was settled in April 2018 but the terms of the settlement were never disclosed.
In 2012 Kramer, who was ISU’s football coach at the time, made national headlines after shoving one of his players to the ground during practice. Video of the incident went viral. No criminal charges were ever filed against Kramer but he was suspended from coaching for one game that season for the incident.
Also in 2012, ISU was investigated by the NCAA for recruiting violations involving the Bengals men’s basketball team and one booster was banned from all university athletic events. That ban has since been lifted.
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.”