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Boise State president slams rival Idaho's fans

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

BOISE, Idaho-- Boise State University President Bob Kustra says his remarks about a bitter football rivalry with the University of Idaho, in which he called Vandal culture "nasty" and "inebriated," came out harsher than he intended.

But Kustra is defending his stance that there's no reason for the Broncos to continue traveling to northern Idaho to play the Vandals on their home turf in Moscow.

Kustra's criticisms of the Vandals came during an interview with the Idaho Statesman editorial board Tuesday. Kustra later said in a prepared statement to Idaho media that questions about the rivalry "hit a sore spot" after someone sent him a recent opinion piece entitled "Reasons to Hate Boise State" from the University of Idaho student newspaper.

"It troubles me that the occasion of an annual football game causes the air waves and Internet to be full of disparagement of Boise State's students, faculty and programs, year after year," Kustra said.

Boise State's pending move to the Mountain West Conference from the Western Athletic Conference means the Broncos aren't likely to play the Idaho Vandals in 2011.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen put the future of the long-standing rivalry in further doubt Monday, saying his team should no longer travel to Moscow for games.

Kustra, when questioned about Petersen's remarks during his interview with the newspaper editorial board, said he didn't care if the Broncos ever play the Vandals again, the newspaper reported.

Boise State spokesman Frank Zang told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was present during the interview and the university does not dispute the context of Kustra's remarks.

"He does recognize that they came out harsher than he intended," Zang said.

Kustra did not plan to do any follow-up interviews about his remarks, Zang said.

University of Idaho president Duane Nellis said he was disappointed by Kustra's comments.

"I'm sorry to hear that Bob feels so negatively about his visits to Moscow," Nellis said in a statement.

The annual matchup between the Broncos and Vandals alternates between Boise and Moscow. The teams are scheduled to play each other on Nov. 12 in Moscow.

"In-state rivalries are meant to be fun," Nellis said. "Our long-time rivalry with BSU is important to the state, the economy, and the fans from both teams. We embrace and celebrate that rivalry and I very much hope it continues."