Boise State coach Chris Petersen made his first public comments about the departure of athletic director Gene Bleymaier during a news conference this past weekend. Petersen said he felt bad for Bleymaier, but emphasized the need to move forward for the good of the program.
Bleymaier was fired last week, and his last day is Sept. 8. The athletic director had been at Boise State for 29 years and helped the program achieve the top status it holds today. Here is a little bit of what Petersen said about Bleymaier and the future at Boise State:
Petersen said he was “surprised” by the move then added, "But then ... nothing really surprises me anymore the way college athletics is going. This is a tough business, and tough decisions have to be made and are going to be made. I think you see it more and more everyday. And that’s just the nature of the beast.
“I go back to the same old thing, our whole focus, my whole focus is worrying about my area of responsibility and what I can control and we get our kids to think about that as well.”
On the ultimate decision made by school president Bob Kustra: “I think in this whole thing, it’s never one person. There’s a lot of people involved in this Bronco machine. I think about that. I think the administration on campus has been unbelievable. The ultimate decision-maker around here is Dr. Kustra in terms of, ‘Yeah, this is going to happen or no that’s not going to happen.’
“I think Gene was instrumental, but I know Dr. Kustra’s got a vision how he wants this thing to continue to go and grow as well.”
There perhaps were some other forces at work in the dismissal, which has been pinned on an NCAA investigation into improper benefits given to student-athletes in five different sports. Fundraising, stadium expansion and the need for a football facility have become major storylines at Boise State. The program is vastly different today from the one Bleymaier took over 29 years ago, and now the need for top-of-the-line facilities has been highlighted.
In fact, getting a new football facility has been high on the agenda for Petersen. Construction on that facility has yet to get underway, and the school still needs to raise millions of dollars to completely fund all the projects it wants to complete. Whoever the new athletic director is will need to have not only a good relationship with Petersen, but a firm business background with plenty of experience trying to raise money.