Athletic director Fred Oien charged in assault of his wife

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

Fred Oien, athletic director of SDSU and a key figure in the university’s move to Division I, was charged with assaulting his wife, Mary, and attempting to keep her from calling for help from authorities.

Police say the altercation took place Sat., Jan. 24 and that during the incident, Oien prevented his wife from calling police by destroying the phone.

Oien and other members of his family could not be reached by the Collegian and none has made a statement to the media as of press time.

The university has also remained silent.

“That is a personal issue for Dr. Fred Oien. The university would have no comment on it,” said Mike Reger, SDSU executive vice president for administration, to the “Argus Leader.”

According to police reports, officials were initially alerted to the incident at 4:54 a.m.

Police also say that Oien and his wife were arguing, when he allegedly kicked her.

Brookings Police Lt. Jeff Miller told “The Brookings Register” that Mary Oien suffered minor bruises but did not require immediate medical attention, though she did go voluntarily to the hospital.

Oien appeared in Brookings County Magistrate Court Mon., Feb. 9 where he was released on a personal recognizance bond. A protection order was also put in place.

Oien will next appear in court Mon., March 15 for a preliminary hearing.

The charges against Oien are both Class 1 misdemeanors, each punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Mary Oien filed for divorce Wed., Feb. 4. She has custody of the couple’s 17-year-old daughter.

The “Argus Leader” reported that Oien attempted to resign but the school did not accept his offer.

Faculty sources who wished to remain anonymous told the Collegian that in the past, faculty members who were accused or convicted of serious crimes have been dealt with based on the severity of their crimes and the willingness of the person convicted or accused of the crimes to work through their problems.

Since the protection order cites “long-standing alcohol abuse” as a reason for its filing, the faculty members believed that Oien would be given a chance to deal with this problem, should it be a real problem in his life if he were found guilty.

If Oien had a problem with alcohol abuse and he sought treatment for it, the faculty members said he would be considered to continue at SDSU.

If, however, he had a problem with alcohol abuse that was not dealt with, he would very likely be removed from his position.

Oien has worked at SDSU since 1979 and has served as athletic director since 1990. He has also taught at Brookings Middle School.

The Collegian will continue to follow this story. Look for updates in the weeks to come.