MSUB chancellor finalist resigned from previous university presidency

2014-04-23T20:30:00Z 2014-04-24T13:43:04Z MSUB chancellor finalist resigned from previous university presidencyBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Ricardo Maestas, one of four finalists in the search for Montana State University Billings' next chancellor, abruptly and without explanation resigned from the presidency of a Texas university last fall.

Maestas was hired as president of Sul Ross State University in November of 2009 and four years later, in November of 2013, unexpectedly resigned from the position. His resignation happened shortly after he fired the entire football coaching staff and amid allegations that football players had been verbally berated, and offered money by university donors.

Maestas has not given a reason for the resignation and did not respond Wednesday as of 6:30 p.m. to a request for comment.

After his resignation, Maestas was reassigned to a role as special assistant to Brian McCall, chancellor of the Texas State University System, a position he still holds. Sul Ross is one of eight institutions within the system.

"I appreciate Dr. Maestas' service to Sul Ross State University and his leadership in stabilizing the university's enrollment and garnering financial support for the university from the state and private donors and I wish him well," McCall said in a Nov. 25, 2013, news release announcing the resignation.

Maestas visited the MSUB campus April 21, where he met with school faculty and staff, as well as members of the chancellor search committee, and hosted an open forum.

Terry Leist, Montana State University vice president for administration and finance, chairs the 18-person search committee. He said on Tuesday that representatives from the search firm, R.H. Perry and Associates, hired to help find and bring in candidates fully investigated each finalist.

He said those efforts included background checks and that the firm "exhausted all of those things" in the search efforts. He added that the committee trusts the firm's work and feels confident in moving forward.

Mike Wintemute, communications director for the Texas State University System, confirmed that Maestas continues his role as the chancellor's assistant but decline to release further details about the resignation, citing the system's policy of not discussing personnel matters.

News reports from several outlets near Sul Ross reported the resignation came after the firing of the school football team's coaching staff. The Sul Ross Skyline, the university's student newspaper, reported that, while no official explanation was given, some parents had voiced concerns over player treatment and that the football team's roster dwindled from 100 players to about 45 by the end of the season.

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