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Woody Paige: Punishments for supposed adults not enough for CU abuse scandal

June 18, 2017 Updated: June 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm
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photo - University of Colorado president Bruce Benson. Photo by THE DENVER POST FILE
University of Colorado president Bruce Benson. Photo by THE DENVER POST FILE 

The University of Colorado president and the Board of Regents should be ashamed.

Bruce Benson has been the school’s president since 2008 and is appointed by the regents. The regents, serving staggered six-year elected terms, are Irene Griego (chairwoman), Glen Gallegos (vice chairman), John Carson, Heidi Ganahi, Kyle Hybl, John Kroll, Steve Ludwig, Sue Sharkey and Linda Shoemaker.

Twice this past week they erred.

On Monday, Benson -- ”in consultation with the board,” in regard to the matter of an investigation of the regarding domestic abuse allegations against a (former) assistant football coach -- handed down punishments to Boulder chancellor Phil DiStefano, athletic director Rick George and football coach Mike MacIntyre.

“I know some will say these remedial measures and changes go too far; others will say they do not go far enough,’’ Benson said in a written statement.

Not far enough, I say.

Obviously, all those involved didn’t study, or remember,  the sordid history of the football program in the early 2000s. And they were doomed to repeat some of their actions.

DiStefano in particular. He is the only one of the 13 listed who was in Boulder and at CU then, and now. He joined the university 42 years ago and served as Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs during the period from 2001-2005 when Colorado suffered through its worst football scandal.

The reputation of the football program and the university was tarnished badly in Colorado and the entire country for many years.  The next football coach once said in exasperation that CU was “scorched earth,” when he arrived.

Benson, DiStefano, George and MacIntyre directly have been responsible for the resurgence of the Buffaloes, who rose to national football prominence last season, won the Pac-12 South and MacIntyre was consensus coach of the year.

As he was returning from one award banquet, MacIntyre initially talked to a woman who accused one of the team’s defensive coaches, Joe Tumpkin, of physically abusing her for years in their relationship.

She never heard again from MacIntyre or any athletic or university officials.

Tumpkin was elevated to the defensive play-calling duties for the Alamo Bowl after the defensive coordinator took the same job at Oregon and after the conversation between MacIntrye and the woman.

Following the successful season, MacIntyre agreed in principle to a three-year contract extension. On Jan. 10, Tumpkin was suspended, and he resigned later in the month. On Jan. 29, Tumpkin was arrested by Boulder police on multiple felony charges.

CU commissioned an independent investigation, and the findings of the 85-page report have just been released, with Benson issuing this statement: “We said at the outset of this matter that we didn’t handle it as we should have, particularly in how we communicated with Tumpkin’s former partner and how we reported the matter internally. We will own our mistakes and own the solutions.”

DiStefano had recommended his own penalty – a 10-day suspension without pay (approximately $17,000) – and Benson agreed.  The president ordered MacIntyre and George each to donate $100,000 to domestic violence organizations.

Do the wrists of DiStefano, George and MacIntyre ache after the slapping? The chancellor gets a vacation. George will receive more than $700,000 in salary this year, anyway, and MacIntyre in excess of $2.7 million after paying his fine.

Benson isn’t without responsibility, DiStefano told him. The investigation revealed the athletic department had a problem, and the president replied that he was busy and the chancellor should handle it.

The regents’ decision to approval MacIntyre’s new deal, by an 8-0 vote, was wrong. (Carson did not attend the meeting at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. How convenient.)

This mess, despite what CU believes, will not be cleaned up with the ill-advised decisions and dubious declarations. MacIntyre and George have declined to address the issue publicly.

DiStefano, George and MacIntyre must offer additional self-imposed punishments. They should publicly apologize and answer questions. All should be suspended without pay for a month this summer.

MacIntyre should not be allowed to coach for the final four days of August and the first day of September.

Colorado plays Colorado State on Sept. 1.

The university president and the board of regents should not be permitted to attend the game.

The penance is not enough.

But, most important, the supposed adults at Colorado must remember, and not repeat, this mistake.

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