COEUR d’ALENE — North Idaho College officials reiterated Wednesday that two of the institution’s wrestling coaches are still employed there despite reports from other media outlets that they’ve been fired.
However, the college also confirmed that head coach Pat Whitcomb will not be coaching in tonight’s home match and that the investigation into academic integrity violations within its athletic program is still ongoing.
“Brandon Richardson (an assistant wrestling coach) will lead the wrestling team for its match against Eastern Oregon University,” said Laura Rumpler, NIC’s chief communications and government relations officer.
Rumpler said it remains unclear who will be the head coach in future matches.
“There are still determinations that need to be made,” she said. “We have ongoing personnel matters. I can’t speculate on what will happen in the future.”
She said that while she can’t speak specifically to this case, employees who are placed on paid administrative leave are protected under personnel privacy policies.
Rumpler said that both Whitcomb and assistant coach Keri Stanley are still employed by NIC.
“Contrary to what is being speculated by another media outlet, there have been no terminations made within the NIC Athletics Department,” she said. “Also, there have been no hires of additional coaching staff.”
Whitcomb, in his 22nd season as NIC’s head wrestling coach, has led the Cardinals to four team national titles. He wasn’t specific on his current status at the college.
“I am very proud of my career at NIC both as an athlete and a coach,” he responded to The Press in a text. “Having just recently received this information myself, I am sharing time with my children as they are my main concern.
“But I’ve never been afraid to fight for what’s right — on or off the mat. I wish all of the wonderful athletes, staff and faculty I have had the pleasure of working with at NIC the very best. I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to our amazing community for all of their support over the years. Any other comments would be premature at this time.”
As an athlete, Whitcomb won national wrestling titles for NIC in 1986 and 1987. He later wrestled at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Western Montana.
As a coach, he was inducted into the NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014 and the NIC Hall of Fame in 2013.
Stanley is in his eighth season as an NIC assistant. As a former Cardinal wrestler, he was a national champion in 2003 and a national runner-up in 2002.
In a memo to all college employees, Graydon Stanley, vice president for Student Services, said the move to have Richardson lead the wrestling team tonight is supported by Athletic Director Al Williams.
In a memo to the college community on Monday, NIC President Rick MacLennan said the preliminary results of the investigation indicate that the alleged academic integrity violations appear to be isolated and not throughout the Athletic Department.
Rumpler said she couldn’t say approximately how long the alleged violations have been occurring.
Violations of the Academic Integrity policy include facilitating academic dishonesty (such as knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of the policy).
Christie Wood, NIC board president, said the board supports MacLennan in the investigation.
“The most important thing to the institution, whether you are a student or trustee, is academic rigor and academic integrity,” she said. “We expect nothing less and will accept nothing less.”