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Former Idaho interim athletic director Pete Isakson dies at 48

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 14, 2020

MOSCOW, Idaho – Pete Isakson, a University of Idaho fundraiser and a former athletics administrator at Idaho and Washington State University, died suddenly Tuesday morning at his home. He was 48.

His death was accidental, according to UI Director of Athletic Communication Joe St. Pierre.

In 2018, Isakson served as interim athletics director at Idaho. He succeeded Rob Spear, who was fired when several former women’s athletes complained Spear and university officials did not take seriously their allegations of sexual harassment by a former football player. On his watch, Isakson fired men’s basketball coach Don Verlin, after UI reported several NCAA rules violations involving the basketball program. Isakson also hired a coach, women’s soccer coach Jeremy Clevenger.

In perhaps one of the most satisfying days in his tenure as athletics director, Isakson got to take part in the groundbreaking for UI’s new basketball arena, set to open next year.

“Pete has a deep desire to create a positive environment, always leading with optimism and energy,” UI President Scott Green said. “His sense of humor, passion for student-athlete success and willingness to step into any situation to help will long be remembered.”

In his Twitter feed, Isakson regularly celebrated UI athletes’ achievements, even after he had moved on from the athletics department.

Isakson also served as a youth coach and mentor in Moscow for years, Green said.

Green hired Terry Gawlik as permanent athletics director in 2019, and Isakson took a position with UI Advancement, with a focus on student success and building the Vandal Promise scholarship fund.

From 1998 to 2003, Isakson was assistant athletics director for development, marketing and promotions at Idaho. From 2003 to 2017, he held similar positions at the WSU athletics department and for WSU President Elson Floyd. In 2017, Isakson returned to Idaho as associate athletics director for revenue generation.

“Today we lost one of our own,” St. Pierre said of Isakson’s death.

A memorial service for Isakson will take place at Moscow’s Church of the Nazarene at 11 a.m. Monday.

A “postgame” gathering will immediately follow at the Latah County fairgrounds. Those in attendance are encouraged to wear UI or Moscow High School colors.

Isakson is survived by his wife, Kelly, and his three children.

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