Joint investigations into Pres. Cockett’s comments being discussed this week

FILE - President Noelle Cockett announced Aug. 26 that Utah State University plans to offer the Vendia Berntson Scholarship to honor the legacy of the first woman to enroll at the Utah Agricultural College in 1890.

LOGAN – The results of an investigation into comments allegedly made by Utah State University President Noelle Cockett in early December about the school’s interim head football coach, Frank Maile, may be released this week.

On Dec. 12 Utah State University’s Board of Trustees announced a decision to retain an independent investigator to conduct a review of concerns raised by student-athletes after a Dec. 8 Zoom meeting involving USU President Noelle Cockett, Director of Athletics John Hartwell and 59 members of the football team.

When members of the football team requested a meeting specifically with President Cockett to ask why interim coach Maile was apparently being passed over to be the team’s permanent head coach, some players said comments made by Pres. Cockett in the meeting reflected a cultural and religious bias toward Maile. A few days later, the full football team met together without coaches and reportedly voted unanimously to boycott the final game of the season.

The meeting with Pres. Cockett, Hartwell and players was not recorded.

“The USU Board of Trustees has a special meeting planned for Tuesday morning,” said a university spokesperson. “The meeting is tentative and contingent on the board receiving the review today (Monday). The Utah Board of Higher Education will receive the review at the same time and could schedule a special meeting to discuss it.”

Frank Maile also called for an investigation into the alleged comments.

Three days after the Board of Trustees announced their intent for an independent review, the Utah Board of Higher Education (USHE) on Dec. 15 also authorized an external review and directed the review be conducted jointly with the USU review. The Utah Board of Higher Education has supervisory authority over presidents of Utah’s institutions of higher education, including President Cockett.

USU retained Stoel Rives to conduct the external review for USU while USHE retained Ray Quinney & Nebeker to conduct their external investigation.

The two law firms have worked together throughout the investigation process and will issue a joint report.

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