Jumping To Conclusions

For all the wonders and magic of the internet’s ability to disseminate information in real-time, with it comes the unfortunate consequence of the media’s (both traditional and social) need to jump to conclusions and cast blame regarding newsworthy events before facts are uncovered and time has had a chance to reveal something that resembles the truth.

So it goes with the recent frenzy over the firing of Boise State Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier by BSU President Bob Kustra. Like everyone else in Boise, I’ve read the articles and observed folks in the social media stream give Kustra “the business” over firing the man who we all know has done so much to build the Boise State athletic department into what it is today.

I don’t claim to understand what happened to precipitate the firing of Gene Bleymaier, nor do I suspect we’ll ever really know. I know however what kind of man Bob Kustra is. I’m fortunate that I’ve gotten to know him well over the last decade and for my money, no one has had a greater positive impact on Boise and the State of Idaho in the last ten years than he has. I feel lucky to call him my friend.

In just eight years, he’s led BSU through its greatest period of dynamic growth in its history. His administration has been marked by an emphasis on research, upgrading admissions standards, improving the undergraduate experience, and increasing the number of graduate and doctoral programs (especially in the increasingly important science and engineering disciplines). Faculty awards and grants for research at Boise State have nearly tripled during his tenure to $50 million. Bob also led the most ambitious fundraising campaign in university history that reached its goal this year. Destination Distinction raised more than $175 million in private support for faculty, student scholarships, programs and campus infrastructure. Most importantly, he’s been able to do this during a period of declining State revenue and difficult economic climates. Few people have an inkling of the complexity and difficulty of negotiating on behalf of education with our State Legislature. I shudder to think of where we’d be today if not for his efforts.

I also know Gene Bleymaier and he is a very good man, a true legend in the Boise community. Unfortunately, there’s no graceful way to fire a legend. That doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes, legends need to be fired (see Bobby Knight). Those that know Bob know that he wouldn’t do something like this if he hadn’t done his homework before taking action. I think Bob Kustra has earned our respect as a community enough to give him some benefit of the doubt on this one.

About Mark Solon

To Write Is To Think...
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3 Responses to Jumping To Conclusions

  1. Absolutely! I got to observe Kustra as a research professor in ECE and you’re right on the mark in describing him and his impact. He’s slowly changing BSU into the influential university everyone has been hoping for. Pete Peterson is another person of integrity that has set the bar high across all departments in the university, not just football. They all deserve our support, on the field as well as off.

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  2. I also agree with Mark’s assessment of President Kustra’s impact. I have been most impressed by his human qualities and compassion, and his embrace of everything Idaho. In our brief conversations he has always struck me as honorable and honest. Without him we’d be hard pressed to take the pride we all share in the accomplishments of the football team beyond the blue. Gene must be congratulated for all of his accomplishments and bringing back a winning tradition that began with Lyle Smith. To be in the job for 30 years and, if my history is correct, only the 4th AD in school history, Gene leaves behind a legacy he can be proud of.

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  3. Absolutely. Management is always at a disadvantage in these situations as they are mostly (if not entirely) prohibited from discussing personnel actions. None-the-less, often as organizations grow – especially as fast as BSU has – managers within that organization no longer have the skill set necessary to go to the next level and / or the senior manager needs to make changes for a variety of reasons. We need to give President Kustra the flexibility to make management changes he feels necessary for the benefit of the organization he is responsible for.

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