BOISE — Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey is leaving his role and will be reassigned to a university-level fundraising position.
Senior associate athletic director Bob Carney will serve as interim athletic director as a national search is conducted for Apsey’s replacement.
Boise State made the surprising news Wednesday in a press release.
“It has been a privilege for me to be a part of Boise State Athletics for the past 21 years, both as an athletic director and senior level administrator,” Apsey said in a statement.
“I will be stepping away from the duties of athletic director and focusing my energy on the financial challenges we currently face by continuing to advance our fundraising efforts at Boise State.”
The Boise State athletics department is facing big budget issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. A shortened football season — and one without fans in the stands — is leaving the department with significant losses.
The baseball and swimming and diving teams were disbanded in July because of budget shortfalls, and the department implemented furloughs and salary reductions this fall.
Apsey had less than a year remaining on his contract. He initially signed a five-year agreement when he arrived at Boise State 2015 and had one year added to that in February 2019. His deal was set to expire in June 2021.
It appears telling that Boise State president Dr. Marlene Tromp, who has been on the job just 16 months, had yet to give him a contract extension with the end of the deal approaching.
The timing of the announcement also somewhat is odd, given the first football game is just three days away.
Many other factors including the move to a newly created fundraising position would suggest this was not solely Apsey’s decision. A prominent Boise State booster told the Idaho Press on Wednesday “this has been in the works” because, in part, “a lot of of donors and coaches are frustrated with him. No vision.”
Asked how long he knew the changes were coming, Carney said, “I don’t know that the timeline is important as part of this conversation today.”
Apsey started at Boise State in 1998 as a senior associate athletic director and was responsible for the fundraising and completion of several new athletic facilities and improvements. According to Boise State, that list includes the Caven-Williams Indoor Sports Complex ($10 million, 2006), the Stueckle Sky Center ($37 million, 2008), the Arguinchona Basketball Complex ($3 million, 2011) and the Bleymaier Football Center ($22 million, 2013).
He left to become the athletic director at Carroll College for the 2014-15 season before returning as athletic director in 2015.
Apsey recently was honored as a finalist for the Sports Business Journal’s athletic director of the year. Under his leadership, Boise State finished as the top athletic department from a Group of Five school in the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup in each of the two years before the pandemic.
“On behalf of our entire Boise State University community, I want to thank Curt Apsey for the tremendous role that he has played in helping our student-athletes achieve unparalleled successes over the past five years,” Dr. Tromp said in a statement. “In this new role, he will continue to work on behalf of our athletics department but also can put his tremendous skill set to work for our entire university during this critical time.”
One potential candidate is senior associate athletic director and football chief of staff Brad Larrondo. Sources said he has strong support from boosters after being in various roles with the athletic department since 1993.
Carney, who has held various roles with the athletic department since 2005, declined to say whether he hoped to be a candidate for the job.
“Right now, as mentioned, it’s going to be a national search for the position and that will be the focus, to be supporting the University and trying to help (it) find the best person for the job and we’re not sure who that’s going to be at this time,” Carney said.
Carney was promoted to his current role of senior associate athletic director for strategic planning and capital projects in July 2018. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in athletic leadership from Boise State.
“It’s definitely a challenging time to step in, but I’m excited to take on this opportunity and the challenges,” Carney said. “One of my goals was to be a Division I athletic director, so it’s a great opportunity to sit in that chair and get a good feel for it and learn from it.
“It’s definitely been a goal of mine for the last four or five years so it’s kind of a bittersweet opportunity because I’m friends with Curt and appreciate all he’s done, but at the same time I’m excited for it. It’s a challenging time, but I think I’m up for the challenge.”
A text message to Apsey seeking additional comment was not returned. Tromp also was not available for additional comment.
“I am extremely grateful to have been able to work with such incredible people while serving our amazing student-athletes that wore the Blue and Orange,” Apsey added in the statement. “I want to thank each of them for being so committed to the student-athlete experience both academically and athletically. With Dr. Tromp’s leadership and the University administration’s commitment to innovation and growth, Boise State and Bronco Athletics will continue to rise to the next level.”