Missoula Story of the Week: UM Football Harassment Complaint


The abrupt firing of University of Montana’s head football coach Robin Pflugrad and the school’s athletic director Jim O’Day late last month may not be the end of the long string of troubles facing the university’s football program.

According to an article in Wednesday’s Missoulian, the federal Department of Education received “a complaint alleging harassment by members of the University of Montana Grizzlies football team.” The school’s decision to replace Pflugrad and O’Day has yet to be fully explained by University of Montana President Royce Engstrom.

Over the past six months, the university has seen its campus community in the spotlight for numerous sexual assaults on and off campus.

While the incidents were investigated by an independent body, the results of which were detailed in a previous Make it Missoula article, the problems surrounding the institution have recently focused on the university’s football team.

After last month’s decision to fire the team’s head football coach and the school’s athletic director the football program hoped to begin the long road to rebuilding its support within the community. However, the news of an investigation into harassment within the institution’s workplace may

The document contains an investigation into alleged University of Montana civil rights abuses and according to the Missoulian article, names “the University of Montana, the Grizzlies football team, UM President Royce Engstrom, former President George Dennison, as well as an athletic director and football coach.”

KPAX.com reported that “the complaint alleges harassment and a hostile workplace environment created by the football team” inferring that the football program’s troubles have spilled over into the university’s working environment.

The Office for Civil Rights investigates alleged discrimination violations based on sex and will inform the university if such an action is warranted in this case. The Missoulian stated that “OCR is still evaluating the complaint, so has not yet decided whether to conduct a formal investigation.” However, since the process takes about 30 days, a decision by the OCR as to formally investigate the university might still be forthcoming.

Details of the complaint, which was obtained by the Missoulian through a Freedom of Information Act request, were heavily redacted. Despite the edited nature of the copy it is still clear the allegations are serious and if found credible will result in yet another investigation into the actions of the University of Montana and its staff.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.