Idaho apologizes for mishandling allegation of inappropriate touching by football player

Idaho is dropping down to college football’s FCS level in 2018. (Getty Images)
Idaho is dropping down to college football’s FCS level in 2018. (Getty Images)

The University of Idaho has admitted it mishandled allegations of harassment by a former football player in 2013.

Former wide receiver Jahrie Level was accused of harassment by a female track athlete and harassment and inappropriate touching by a female diver. In the days after the surveillance video emerged of the allegation of inappropriate touching at a bar, Level was dismissed from the school. But not before the two women said their complaints against him weren’t dealt with properly.

The revelations about the entire situation come in a long (and must-read) story in the Idaho Statesman, which thoroughly breaks down the circumstances at the school and athletic department. The story comes after former diver Mairin Jameson published her story on Tumblr in January.

“I really think at that time there was a feeling that we were trying to protect a football student-athlete, and that was not true,” [Idaho athletic director Rob] Spear said this week. “That was never true. We wanted this investigation to happen. I think the expectation was that the individual (Level) should not have been provided any due process and be removed from the team. Not having him on this campus was what the end result was. … We should have apologized, and we didn’t.”

Jameson published her account after watching a show on CNN. She recounted what she said Level did to her, as well as the harassment against the track athlete that she witnessed. She said Level’s harassment was persistent and she tried to keep her distance from him. Then the two were at the same establishment off campus, where she said he did the following via the police report published at the time.

“Jahrie came up behind me and put his fingers up my skirt and rubbed them from the front of my underwear all the way to my butt,” wrote Jameson, who is seen on video slapping his arm after the touching. “I immediately turned around and yelled: ‘That is so disrespectful. You aren’t allowed to touch me like that.’ … I felt so disrespected and disgusted.”

Jameson went to the school’s athletic department with the complaint, meeting with Spear and coach Paul Petrino. Spear told her that since the allegation happened off-campus, the school couldn’t do anything. Jameson also said they said there was a lack of proof. The off-campus reasoning was outdated and inapplicable at the time.

Spear did not notify the dean of students office of the complaint. Notification of the dean of students is a Title IX requirement. The athletic department then took the step of saying Petrino didn’t want Level around the school’s female athletes, but no serious steps were taken regarding a punishment.

As you can imagine, Jameson struggled with what to do next and pondered transferring if Level was going to remain at the school. She went to the women’s center on campus, where a staffer there immediately took her to the dean of students office. The proper campus reporting process began and Jameson eventually decided that she wanted to pursue charges against Level.

After surveillance video of the alleged bar incident emerged, Level was dismissed from the team more than two weeks after the allegation happened. He ended up transferring to Stony Brook University and was expelled from the school after his transfer after a student-conduct panel found him guilty of violations of the code of conduct.

“The outcome wouldn’t have changed, whether we contacted the dean of students or not,” Spear said. “We should have contacted the dean of students. We didn’t. We just plain should have, and we didn’t.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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