Utah State intends to fire Blake Anderson following investigation

Posted at 10:32 AM, Jul 02, 2024

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State head football coach Blake Anderson has been placed on leave following an investigation involving student sexual misconduct, with the school informing him of its intent to end his employment.

The school also announced it had terminated other officials within the athletics department, calling the moves "significant changes" in the program.

In a release Tuesday, the school said its actions stem from a review of Anderson's noncompliance with Utah State policies requiring the reporting of sexual misconduct and prohibiting school employees from investigating alleged sexual misconduct on their own.

Anderson has 14 days to respond to the notice of termination.

Defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling will act as the Aggies' interim head coach.

Utah State Associate Vice President and Deputy Athletic Director of External Affairs Jerry Bovee, and Director of Player Development and Community Austin Albrecht were also dismissed for violating school policies.

Athletic Director Diana Sabau met with the team Tuesday to let them know of the changes.

“As leaders, we are responsible for ensuring allegations of USU policy violations are investigated. Today’s actions are the result of a thorough external investigation, and we believe the evidence demands immediate action," said the school in its release. "Our job is to fearlessly hold ourselves and others accountable for their conduct and to make sure that, for the sake of our students and our community, we are living the values of our university. While recognizing the impact of these decisions on our student athletes and football program, we will continue to take the steps necessary to deliver a respectful, transparent and winning culture at Utah State University.”

In three seasons with the Aggies, Anderson has gone 23-17, with one Mountain West Conference championship.

News of Anderson's probable dismissal spread quickly on the Logan campus.

"They sent out a big email — honestly I'm not a big football watcher, but I was a little surprised because whenever you get an email like that, it's a little shocking," said Natalie McKee, a junior at USU. "I could hear my coworkers in the back room, like, 'Oh, my gosh!' So it was a little interesting, I'm not going to lie."

Fans appeared to support the decision by the school's administration, but worried about how the football program will be affected by such a late coaching change. Because of the move, players will now be able to leave Utah State for other schools without penalty.

"We hope to keep the team that we have, we hope that we can keep it going. We hope that they kind of fall in line with the new interim coach," said Jace Lexon Davis, "but if we don't, we could see a lot of upheaval, which could really kind of mess things up, which is worrisome."

"If this is what's going on, then it's good that it's kind of coming to a head," Davis added, "That we're kind of making some tough decisions to get things made right with as far as the culture here at Utah State goes."

Students, both past and present have questions moving forward.

"It did kind of make me wonder, like, 'What else is being misreported at the university?' Because he's a big figure, like that's a big thing here at USU, our football team," said McKee.

For Davis, he wonders how the team will be impacted, with the kickoff to the 2024 season coming up at the end of August.

"I think that's where most people are starting to worry. We don't see coaching changes this late very often with the transfer portal as it is. We're hoping to keep hold of most of our players," he said.

Anderson has retained an attorney, who issued the following statement to ESPN: "USU is going to be fighting an uphill battle if they try to fire him for cause just to avoid paying Blake what he's owed. Stiffing a head coach by blaming him for what his supervisor allegedly failed to do is a novel approach that hasn't been tried before, but that theory will never hold up in court."

FOX 13 News also received a statement from Dallin Wilson, the president of the HURD — a student-led organization that provides a passionate student section at all home athletic events:

“As students and fans, we come to know and love the players, coaches, and staff that represent our university. It is sad to hear that some of them will have to move on, but at the end of the day The HURD cheers for the name on the front of the jersey, no matter whose name is on the back. While the news is surprising, we have full faith in Coach Dreiling to lead this team. The HURD will be out in force to support the Aggies this fall across all sports.”