Utah State set to fire Blake Anderson: Coach placed on administrative leave amid noncompliance with Title IX

blake anderson

Utah State has informed coach Blake Anderson that it intends to terminate his employment agreement after an investigation turned up noncompliance with university policies concerning Title IX, the school announced Tuesday. Anderson has 14 days to respond to the university’s notice. 

Deputy athletic director Jerry Bovee, who served as interim athletic director in 2023, and director of player development Austin Albrecht have already been fired for “violations of university policies related to the reporting of sexual and domestic violence and failures of professional responsibilities.” 

The team was informed that defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach Nate Dreiling, who was hired in January, will serve as interim coach. 

“As leaders, we are responsible for ensuring allegations of USU policy violations are investigated,” Utah State president Elizabeth Cantwell and athletic director Diana Sabau said in a joint statement. “Today’s actions are the result of a thorough external investigation, and we believe the evidence demands immediate action. 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.”

Though the incident that led to Utah State’s notice to Anderson occurred in Spring 2023, former player Patrick Maddox filed a lawsuit against Anderson and Utah State alleging that Anderson retaliated against Maddox after Maddox recorded Anderson making disparaging remarks about sexual assault victims in a team meeting. In the recording, Anderson can be heard saying that it “has never been more glamorized to be the victim” of sexual assault. 

The suit, which was filed in Oct. 2022, claims that Anderson held a meeting with Maddox in which he encouraged Maddox to apologize to the team for recording Anderson’s comments. Anderson also warned Maddox that teammates might “try to get answers out of him” through whatever means possible if he did not apologize to the team. According to the suit, Maddox issued an apology in a later team meeting. Anderson also publicly apologized in Dec. 2021 for the comments he made regarding sexual assault victims. 

Utah State paid Maddox $150,000 in a settlement of the case, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. 

The 55-year old Anderson was set to return for his fourth season with the Aggies, who open their 2024 slate on Aug. 31 against Robert Morris. Anderson was hired to replace Gary Andersen at Utah State in 2021 after seven years at Arkansas State. 

Anderson immediately led the Aggies to an 11-3 record with a Mountain West title and a win over Oregon State in the Los Angeles Bowl. The Aggies also placed 24th in the final AP Top 25, the first time they finished the year ranked since 2018 and just their third ranked finish of the century. 

Utah State hasn’t enjoyed as much success over the past two years, however. The Aggies have gone 6-7 in each of the last two seasons with a 9-7 mark in MWC play during that span. They’ve also lost two consecutive bowl games and have finished no better than tied for third in the Mountain West’s Mountain division. 

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