Former University of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn was blindsided by Chancellor Phil DiStefano when he was called to DiStefano's office Thursday for an impromptu meeting in which he was informed the school was firing him, multiple sources told the Daily Camera.
DiStefano handed Bohn a letter notifying him of the decision. It said, in part, that Bohn had "materially failed" in his duties as athletic director. On Tuesday, the school issued a press release saying it had accepted Bohn's resignation and mentioned nothing about firing him.
While the school has given no specific reason for the breakup with Bohn, the well-documented struggles of the football program, continued athletic department financial problems, little
progress in fundraising and conflicting leadership styles with his bosses are believed to be the core issues that led to Bohn being forced out.
The school and Bohn are finalizing details of a separation agreement that will pay Bohn more than $900,000 for the final three years of his contract, which runs into 2017. Sources said there were no violations of university policies, NCAA rules violations or unethical conduct of any kind that led to Bohn's departure.
Bohn, who grew up in Boulder, attended Boulder High School and played football and baseball at Kansas, sent a letter to athletic department staff members late Tuesday in which he confirmed his resignation.
"Regrettably, I am resigning as Athletic Director effective immediately," Bohn wrote. "I believe it is best given the current circumstances. They want to go in a different direction and that is their prerogative. This is a very disappointing, troubling and shocking development as we have made so much progress together over the past 8 years.
"I want to ensure you know, as my official separation agreement states, that I have not engaged in any impropriety, NCAA rule violations, university policy violation or any immoral, dishonest, or other sort of misconduct."
CU President Bruce Benson issued a statement supporting DiStefano's decision, but not all members of the university leadership seemed to agree with the choice.
"I am a big fan of Mike Bohn and I am sorry to see him go," CU Board of Regents chair Michael Carrigan said.
DiStefano named CU senior women's administrator Ceal Barry interim athletic director Tuesday evening. Barry, who was a legendary women's basketball coach for the school, is the first woman to serve as athletic director in CU history. Barry is expected to be a candidate to become the sixth fulltime athletic director in CU history if she has interest in the job.
Bohn's resignation takes effect June 3, but his days leading the CU athletic department essentially came to an end Tuesday. Bohn did not make any public comments Tuesday. DiStefano issued a statement and scheduled a press conference today at 4:30 at Regent Hall on campus.
"Mike Bohn led CU-Boulder athletics in a time of great transition and change," DiStefano said his statement. "We are grateful to him for his vision, passion and commitment, and for his key role in revitalizing men's and women's basketball, helping us to join the Pac-12 Conference, and in taking important steps to upgrade athletic facilities at CU-Boulder. We wish him well."
While the football program reached its lowest point in the modern era last season being led by a man Bohn hired, he enjoyed many successes during his tenure at CU, which began in April 2005 when he was hired away from San Diego State.
Bohn's biggest success was leading the school in its conference switch from the Big-12 to the Pac-10 in 2010.
Bohn helped rebuild two basketball programs, both of which were nationally ranked for at least a portion of last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He created the popular Pearl Street Stampede pep rallies on Friday nights in downtown Boulder in the fall.
While fundraising struggles played a part in his departure, Bohn actually achieved more success in that area than any previous athletic director in CU history. He was responsible for raising the funding for the multipurpose practice bubble, increasing corporate sponsorships to record levels and led the effort to build the practice facility and new locker rooms and other amenities at the Coors Events Center.
Men's basketball coach Tad Boyle was hired by Bohn three years ago and has used those improvements to lead the program to new heights.
"I was shocked, I think like a lot of people were, and surprised," Boyle said Tuesday night of hearing the news of Bohn's departure. "The thing I love about Mike Bohn is his passion for the university and the job he had for eight years. It came through loud and clear every day. He's the guy that hired me and for that I am forever grateful. I'm obviously very loyal to him."
Boyle also made it clear that he believes there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the level of support CU's athletic programs receive.
"All constituents of the University of Colorado have to get over their trust or distrust of certain employees," Boyle said. "It shouldn't be as important as their love for the university.
"I think there is a lot of people who like to point to a coach they like or don't like or an athletic director or an administrator as a reason for not being more involved. For us to be successful, that has to go away and the love for the university has to be the most important thing. I've been at other universities where it's like that and that's where we need to go."
The school will form a search committee to hunt for Bohn's successor.
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