Player arrests among the reasons Kramer is staying

Updated: December 15, 2006, 6:33 PM ET
Associated Press

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Montana State football coach Mike Kramer said Friday he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the head coaching job at the University of Idaho, and acknowledged the drug-related arrests of one player and two former players played a role in the decision.

"This is simply not the time for me to leave Montana State," Kramer said in a written statement. "We are at a point in time where our current players deserve to know whether I'll remain, and where the recruits we've spent months trying to bring into the Bobcat program need to know. Idaho is a special place to me, but my heart is here."

Kramer, who grew up in Colton, Wash., and played football at Idaho, spoke with Idaho athletic director Rob Spear by telephone on Tuesday and interviewed with him Thursday.

Kramer, 52, said he made the decision to stay at MSU on the drive home from Moscow, Idaho.

"And I called Mr. Spear last night at 10:30 and said, 'I will not be a candidate for the head coaching position at your university,"' Kramer said at a press conference Friday morning.

Spear, in an e-mail to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, wrote: "We discussed the position and had a very good visit. At the end of the day, we mutually agreed it was not the right move for Mike or for the University of Idaho."

Kramer acknowledged this week's arrest of current player Andre Fuller and former players Eddie Sullivan and Derrick Davis on drug-related charges had a role in him not getting the Idaho job.

Another former player, John Lebrum, was arrested in June along with former Bobcat basketball player Branden Miller and charged with murder in the shooting death of Jason Wright.

"I told Rob that this situation at Montana State requires my leadership," Kramer said. "I'm talking about the arrest and the ongoing legal situation of Andre Fuller, and even our ex-players, because the last thing I want to do is leave a program with the feeling that there's some work undone. I want to get this issue resolved."

MSU athletic director Peter Fields, reached in Chattanooga, Tenn., where the national championship game was being played Friday night, told the Chronicle: "Now it's time for us to sit down and evaluate our program."

Kramer met with his coaching staff Friday morning to discuss the recent arrests.

"We talked at length about the process we're involved with right now in regard to the arrest of Andre and what it means to us," Kramer said. "I think I have a long process ahead of me to reassure our university, our university community, the fans, the boosters, that this is not a program run amok."

Junior linebacker Will Claggett said it is more important than ever for the football players to set a good example and regain the public's trust.

"We're going to go out there and do everything we can and do the right thing for the community, whether that be volunteering or setting a good example," Claggett said. "Just sitting back and being a football player isn't going to cut it any more."

Kramer had expressed interest in the Idaho job vacated when Dennis Erickson left for Arizona State. Erickson left for ASU just 10 months after returning to Idaho, the school that gave him his first head coaching job in 1982.

Former Michigan State and Idaho head coach John L. Smith withdrew his name from consideration. Washington State defensive coordinator Robb Akey has also been interviewed.

Kramer's first Montana State team went 0-11, but he has since coached the Bobcats to three Big Sky Conference championships in five seasons. The Bobcats advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs this season, winning the school's first playoff game in 22 years.

Idaho, which went 4-8 this season, hasn't had a winning season since 1999, while Western Athletic Conference rival Boise State has turned into a national power.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press