Racial threats force Boise St.'s Johnson to beef up security

BOISE, Idaho -- A Boise State University running back who
scored the winning points in the Fiesta Bowl, then proposed to his
cheerleader girlfriend on national television, has hired security
for his weekend wedding because of racial threats, a newspaper
reported Tuesday.

Ian Johnson, who is black, and his fiance, Chrissy Popadics, who
is white, are due to be married Saturday in Boise.

A report on the letters and phone calls that Johnson has
received was carried in an Idaho Statesman sports column.

Johnson, 21, from San Dimas, Calif., ran into the end zone on a
so-called "Statue of Liberty" play to score the winning two-point
conversion as underdog BSU beat the Oklahoma Sooners 43-42 in
overtime on Jan. 1. The Broncos ended their season 13-0 and wound
up ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll.

Johnson, who will be a junior this fall, proposed to Popadics,
at the time a Broncos cheerleader, on the field after time expired
in the game in Glendale, Ariz.

Since then, Johnson said he's received phone calls, 30 letters
and, in some instances, personal threats from people who objected
to his plans to marry Popadics.

"You take it for what it is -- the less educated, the less
willing to change," Johnson told the Statesman. "But we're not
acting like we're naive to all the stuff that's going on. We know
what's been said. We're going to make sure we're safe at all times.
It's an amazing day for us, and we'd hate to have it ruined by

He didn't describe the threats -- or the heightened security
measures the couple have planned -- in detail.

"It's unfortunate that it involves a certain protocol being
followed to ensure that nothing happens," Johnson said. "It's
really sad because a lot of people that are probably doing it are
the same people who were cheering me on."

A BSU football spokesman, Todd Miles, told The Associated Press
on Tuesday that Johnson hopes to put the matter behind him and does
not want to comment further. Johnson's phone number is unlisted.

Popadics' family in Boise declined to make her available Tuesday
for an interview.