Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

KLEE: Too many voices in Boulder - not Bohn - is CU's problem

By Paul Klee Published: June 1, 2013 0

BOULDER - Was it wrong that Mike Bohn was forced to resign as Colorado's athletic director?

That's not the question we should be asking. Here's the right one: Why is it always so dang hard to get everyone in Boulder on the same page?

After another messy divorce in the CU athletic department, it should be clear to everyone who has seen Ralphie stampede.

The issues at CU are not a Bohn problem; they're a Boulder problem.

In the final months of his eight years as Buffs AD, Bohn spoke about the "headwinds" that slow progress and "aligning" the key decision-makers.

If nothing else, Bohn was the master of veiled statements. Simply by reviewing some of the major decisions of his tenure, we don't need a magic decoder ring to figure out what he meant.

The Jon Embree hire came from outside Bohn's control. And it was one of the worst hires, along with an unqualified staff, in a major-college revenue sport I can remember.

"There was a huge push to get a (former) Buff," Bohn allowed.

Colorado's never had a better hire in a revenue sport than Tad Boyle, the basketball coach. Guess what? That came with controversy, too.

When Bohn met with Boyle in a Broomfield hotel during the interview process, Boyle was a distant third on the list of candidates. Powers-that-be preferred former Wyoming coach Steve McClain or former Metro State coach and Nuggets assistant Mike Dunlap.

Friendly note to Bohn's successor: Whether it's a good coaching hire or a bad coaching hire, Colorado's AD must listen to input from everyone with a corner office.

Too many hands in the cookie jar leads to one hungry stomach.

"I did not have autonomy to make all decisions," Bohn said.

Is twisting arms unique to CU athletics?

"I think that any athletic director in this nation have chains of command they've got to follow," Bohn said.

CU-Boulder seems to have more than most.

"I once worked for a gentleman who said there are two things in America," Bohn said. "Everyone knows how to boil water. And everyone knows how to run intercollegiate athletics."

To gauge the interest level for CU's AD job, I spoke to a couple of AD friends running BCS athletic departments. Both said CU is a harder job than people want to believe.

Harder than it should be, I say.

Bohn liked to trumpet the progress made in Olympic sports. At his farewell news conference Thursday, Bohn handed out a list of 95 bullet points achieved during this tenure. Volleyball and soccer attendance increased. The ski team got new vans.

"The band was in jeopardy when I arrived," he said.

That was part of Bohn's problem. He sought to keep everyone happy. He's a Boulder High grad, and that's the Boulder way.

This is coming from a former college golfer, who understands the basic rule of big-time athletics: Volleyball and soccer don't pay the bills. They double them.

If Colorado wants to be a factor in Pac-12 football, hire a man or woman with a football background to run the athletic department. Make football and men's basketball their first, second and third priorities; let someone else spend their time on Olympic sports.

Women's lacrosse is a fun idea. It doesn't pay the bills.

And if chancellor Phil DiStefano is telling the truth, the decision to remove Bohn was about paying the bills.

"I want to make sure we have an AD who will run the athletic department like a business," DiStefano said.

If athletics truly is a priority in Boulder, CU needs to hire a football man or woman as AD.

Then take one of the ski vans for a spin and let the AD do their job.

-

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

On Gazette.com

Check out Paul Klee's blog, where the columnist opines on the Nuggets' failure to retain Masai Ujiri. The reigning NBA Executive of the Year is headed to Toronto, a big blow to the future of the Nuggets.

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