Idaho State University is now investigating claims made by a football player that he was the target of unfair treatment and inappropriate communication from a coach.
On Nov. 14, the player filed the complaint with the university. It claimed he was assaulted by a coach during an away game, that he was lied to about his eligibility status and one of the coaches sent inappropriate texts about race and gender to players.
According to the Idaho State Journal, the player, safety Jayson Miller, was hammer punched twice in his shoulder pads by a coach that he identified as Head Coach Rob Phenicie during halftime in the game against Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calf. Miller asked Phenicie to stop, but the coach punched him again, according to the claims.
Miller says that the hammer punches left visible bruises, even with shoulder pads on, according to Miller's statements to the Idaho State Journal.. While in San Luis Obispo, Miller filed charges with the Cal Poly Police Department against Phenicie, who is now under investigation.
He also says that Phenicie told him that he should consider transferring to another university after Miller talked to him about the incident.
Phenicie is under investigation by the university, but no further actions have been taken.
Miller also says that he was sent inappropriate texts by assistant coach Jay Staggs. After the university investigated the complaint, the university removed Staggs from his position on the coaching staff on Nov. 26.
Staggs now has the same coaching position at Carol College in Helena, Mont.
Miller sent the university the complaint on Nov. 14 and the university launched an investigation into the claims the next day.
Pauline Thiros, interim athletic director, said in a statement that, "When Idaho State University learned about the inappropriate text messages to players, we took immediate and swift action. Conduct of this nature is absolutely unacceptable. We aim to provide an environment based on the values of equity, inclusion, and respect for all people. We will not stand for actions that belittle or are disrespectful."
In November, Miller found out that coaching staff mislead him about his eligibility status and that he was a senior and could not play after the season ended. Entering the season, Miller believed that he had eligibility left after being told that by athletics staff.
The university says that it acknowledges that the athletic department did not file proper documentation and says they will honor his scholarship through May 2020.
The reason why the documents were not processed correctly is still under investigation by the university.
"It's apparent that our department failed to follow proper protocol regarding eligibility for the student-athlete, and we created a clear expectation for him that he would have an additional year," Thiros said in a statement. "For that, we apologize and are doing all we can to pursue that year of eligibility for him now. Whatever the outcome, we will honor our scholarship commitment."
Investigations into Phenicie by Idaho State and Cal Poly University Police Department are still on-going.