Is Boise State University (BSU) hiding the allocation of money for a controversial radio show from the Idaho Legislature?
In a 2021 email from Nicole Nimmons, the Associate Vice President of Campus Services at BSU, this concern is raised and explained. Nimmons details the way in which $105,053.00 is being paid to former university President Bob Kustra for his weekly radio program on Boise State Public Radio (BSPR), Reader’s Corner.
In the email from Nimmons, which can be viewed in its entirety below, she gives some history on the source of funding for Kustra’s paycheck,
“Alicia decided to pay Bob Kustra $105,053 for his position at Boise State Public Radio with vending machine revenue. The information I received as to why this decision was made was appropriated funds were initially used. Due to Bob’s controversial radio segments and his editorials to news outlets supporting freedom of speech, the university was questioned about his position’s funding. As a result, it was then transitioned to local funding from interest funds, i.e., the interest we make from bonds. Additional questions and concerns continue to be voiced about the current interest funding. As a consequence of pressured questions on the funds he is paid through, I am being told to use vending funding to add one more work layer to fund this position, and then be made whole through another funding account.”
It is very likely that the “Alicia” mentioned in her email represents Alicia Estey, the Chief Financial and Operating Officer and Vice President for Finance and Operations at BSU.
The amount and funding sources for Kustra’s program have been a topic of controversy since 2019 when this article was published by Kevin Richert at Idaho Ed News. Richert says BSU and BSPR told him,
“Kustra’s salary does not come from the state’s general fund — or, in other words, from tax dollars.”
Noted also in Richert’s article was the contract for the show in 2019, which did not provide information about the source for his then salary, $77,230.40
Nimmons’ email went on to explain the possible hiding of the current funding for Kustra’s now $105,053.00 pay,
“I am assuming the ask to use vending funds to pay Bob is not forthcoming or transparent of the university’s continued support for Bob’s radio programming. Essentially concealing funding so that the state legislature or others don’t know the full amount the university is contributing to funding Bob’s position. In several conversations about Big City, the main response was that we stand for and offer an environment of free speech. Yet leadership continues to conceal our efforts in balancing discussions conservative vs. liberal, trying to separate social justice efforts and the funding.”
Nimmons’ statement also mentions the discussion surrounding Big City Coffee, a local company who is currently involved in a lawsuit with BSU over the business’ campus location being closed and removed from the university’s library very quickly after its opening in 2020.
The email concludes with a final thought by Nimmons,
NIMMONS-01387 coke email redacted
“Former senior relationship with the university does not [feel] proper to me.”
The contract between Coca Cola and Boise State (shown below) may come into play in unraveling whether the funding for Kustra’s radio show has been handled properly by the University.BSU Coca Cola contract
The Idaho State Tax Commission also has statutory and administrative laws on the use of vending machine funds which could also become a factor for BSU.
Idaho Dispatch has reached out to Boise State University, Nicole Nimmons, Alicia Estey, and Boise State Public Radio for comment. The Dispatch has also submitted a public records request for the BSPR current contract for Kustra’s Reader’s Corner. This article will be updated when responses are received.
Feature photo courtesy of the Bronco Shop bookstore.
Tags: Alicia Estey, Big City Coffee, Bob Kustra, Boise State Public Radio, Boise State University, BSU President, Education Funding, Idaho Legislature, Kevin Richert, Marlene Tromp, Nicole Nimmons, Reader's Corner, Scholarships