Utah State Releases Findings Of Investigation Into Comments Made By USU President About Frank Maile

Jan 15, 2021, 12:50 PM | Updated: 12:52 pm
Frank Maile - Utah State...
Utah State Aggies interim coach Frank Maile watches the game with the Fresno State Bulldogs in Logan on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State University released the findings of their investigation into comments made by university president Noelle Cockett during a Zoom meeting with football players about Frank Maile last month.

The Utah State football team opted out of the final regular-season game against Colorado State on December 12 after comments they say Cockett made regarding Maile’s religious and cultural background.

The following statement was released after the University investigation concluded on Friday afternoon.

“We conclude that neither Pres. Cockett nor Hartwell expressly stated that their ‘primary concern’ about Coach Maile was his religious or cultural background, nor that his background would disqualify him as a coaching candidate. Instead, we conclude that the inclusivity concerns raised by Pres. Cockett were designed to promote a discussion with athletes about the degree to which they felt included and welcomed at Utah State. Unfortunately, likely due to some of the complicating factors expressed above, Pres. Cockett’s intent was not effectively communicated to or understood by the athletes, who genuinely felt that Pres. Cockett’s general concerns about inclusivity expressed or implied reservations about Coach Maile.”

The USU Board of Trustees received the external review report this week and board chair Jody Burnett met with the Utah Board of Higher Education on Friday morning to discuss steps to move forward.

“We greatly appreciate the student-athletes’ willingness to participate in this external review,” said Burnett. “We hear them and acknowledge their concerns. Over the spring semester, the university’s leadership and Trustees will continue to address the issues raised by the student-athletes during the review.

“The Trustees continue to have great faith and confidence in President Cockett’s leadership of Utah State, including her proactive approach to advancing the institution’s diversity and inclusion goals,” added Burnett. “We recognize we have much to do in addressing diversity and inclusion issues, and we are committed to doing that work, as a board and as a university community.”

Deans of Utah State’s eight colleges held a unanimous vote of confidence in President Cockett, saying “We know her to be a person of great humanity—kind, considerate, caring, empathic, inclusive, honest, forthright, and deeply loyal to the values and aspirations of our beloved university.”

President Cockett also released a statement after the findings.

“In my attempt as president of USU to connect with the students around a sensitive topic, I have learned this caused some students discomfort,” said President Cockett. “It was certainly not my intent for this to result in a negative experience, and for that, I sincerely apologize. I look forward to continuing progress on the diversity and inclusion efforts that were outlined before the pandemic set in last spring.”

The Aggies hired Blake Anderson as the head football coach on December 12 after spending six seasons at the helm of Arkansas State. Maile recently accepted a position to be the defensive line coach at Boise State.

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