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MOSCOW — The Petrino era is coming to an end at Idaho.

Vandal football coach Paul Petrino will not be retained for the 2022 season, the university announced Thursday.

The news was first reported by Tubs at the Club. The website reported boosters have raised funds with the intention of paying out the remainder of Petrino’s contract, citing sources close to the school’s athletic department.

Petrino owns a 33-66 record in nine seasons at Idaho.

His contract lists a base salary of $446,214.40 — the highest among Big Sky coaches — which includes his media contract, and was set to expire June 30, 2022. The media portion of the deal was worth $255,000.

“I’m very proud of all we accomplished during my time leading this program,” Petrino said in a news release. “Maya and I remain grateful for the opportunity and will take incredible memories with us as we transition to our next endeavor. Our kids grew up here and this University and program will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

A national search will begin immediately for Petrino’s replacement. Athletic director Terry Gawlik will lead the search, and will have help from College Sports Solutions consulting firm, which is based in Atlanta.

Gawlik will conduct a news conference at 10 a.m. today at the Kibbie Dome.

“We are committed to competing at the top of the Big Sky Conference and the FCS,” she said in the release. “We will work tirelessly to find a dynamic coach that will lead the Vandals back to the playoffs. Our goals are lofty, and our expectations are high, but we know the Vandal family expects nothing less than championship-caliber football in the Kibbie Dome.”

Petrino’s tenure has produced one winning season when the Vandals went 9-4 in 2016, culminating in a victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Colorado State.

But the Vandals are 14-25 overall and 10-19 in the Big Sky since dropping from the Football Bowl Subdivision to the Football Championship Subdivision in 2018. That includes a 1-19 mark in conference road games. This season, the Vandals are 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the conference heading into their season finale at noon Saturday against Idaho State in Pocatello.

Petrino was hired on Dec. 3, 2012, to take charge of a program that’d won just three games the previous two seasons under Robb Akey and interim coach Jason Gesser.

After two consecutive one-win seasons, Petrino’s team improved to 4-8 in 2015 in its second season in the Sun Belt Conference.

The coach’s best year in 2016 featured a five-game winning streak to end the season and seven wins in the Vandals’ final eight games. Led by star quarterback Matt Linehan, UI carried its momentum into a bowl game in Boise, where it scored 41 unanswered points and defeated the Rams 61-50 in an instant classic.

But the good times didn’t last. Idaho fell back to 4-8 the next year and the entire athletic program underwent an upheaval as it dropped back down to the FCS level and a return to UI’s old conference, the Big Sky. However, the move garnered similar results, and the Vandals have been unable to match the success of regional rivals Montana and Eastern Washington.

A native of Helena, Montana, Petrino’s Vandal roots go back to his time as an assistant under John L. Smith from 1992-94.

The former Carroll College quarterback got his coaching start at his alma mater in his hometown.

Other stints as an assistant include stops at Utah State, Louisville, Southern Miss, Arkansas, Illinois and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Before joining the Vandals, Petrino served as the offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks on the staff of his brother, Bobby Petrino.

He did greatly improved the academic progress of the team. The Vandals were under Level 1 penalties with a practice reduction as of the 2012-13 school year with a single-year APR of 838. It rose significant in each of his first four seasons to a one-year high of 970 in the 2016-17 academic year. By the time the last report was issued for the 2018-19 school year, Idaho was up to a five-year average of 957, which was just above the average for an FCS school and just below the overall average of 960 for all Division I school. The single-year APR for the Vandals in 2018-19 was at 933.

But the bottom line became winning and superceded anything that happened in the classroom.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for Paul. He is a man of integrity and strong character,” Gawlik said. “He has helped hundreds of football student-athletes become better men. I am personally grateful for his loyalty to Vandal Athletics, his willingness to be a team player and the care and attention that he gave to his student-athletes.”’

Donn Walden contributed to this report. Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports

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