Ramifications

Seven months after Mike MacIntyre became embroiled in a domestic abuse case involving former CU assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, and five months after MacIntyre agreed to terms for a contract extension, the Colorado Board of Regents has approved MacIntyre’s new contract.

All’s well that ends well?

Well, it’s not really over.

First, there is the resolution of the criminal charges against Tumpkin. Then there is the civil lawsuit which the victim is planning to file against the University, with a claim for damages in the millions.

Each of those cases will give CU haters the opportunity to bash MacIntyre, the football program, and the CU athletic department.

Still, those legal actions will not garner much in the way of national publicity, and will not have such a direct impact upon MacIntyre. The CU head coach has received his raise, and is in position to (largely) put the case behind him and focus on football.

It’s a good time, then, to gauge the ramifications of how the Tumpkin case will have an effect, if any, upon recruiting, the CU fan base, media treatment, and the future of MacIntyre and athletic director Rick George in Boulder.

Recruiting and fan base

Last year, by the end of June, Colorado had 11 verbal commitments for the Recruiting Class of 2017, with seven future Buffs giving their verbal commitments to the school in the month of June alone.

To date, Colorado has a total of seven verbal commitments from the Recruiting Class of 2018, with only one of those recruits signing on with the Buffs in the first half of the month of June.

There are those who believe that CU’s 2018 Recruiting Class has been damaged by the long-delayed vote on Mike MacIntyre’s contract extension.

I really doubt that is the case.

For starters, the CU Recruiting Class of 2018 will be much smaller than that of the Class signed this past February. The Class of 2017 had 28 members, while the Class of 2018 will likely be in the 18-20 member range.

Fewer slots available = fewer commitments by mid-June.

Also, the summer camp season is just now getting into full swing. There will likely be several new commitments in the upcoming weeks.

Ramifications of the delayed contract extension upon recruiting … slight.

As to the fan base, if there is to be a backlash against the program due to the Tumpkin case, the ticket office has yet to see it.

Quite to the contrary, ticket sales for the 2017 season are going quite well.

According to a story in the Daily Camera on June 2nd: The Buffaloes have a 96-percent renewal rate on season tickets, a three-percent increase over last year, when 18,011 season tickets were sold.

CU has also sold over 50-percent more new season tickets than at this time a year ago, and is on track to sell out of most of its luxury seats.

“We’re extremely happy,” said Matt Biggers, associate athletic director and chief marketing officer for the Buffs. “People have renewed, people have added seats.”

Ramifications of the delayed contract extension upon the fan base … negligible.

Treatment by the media

The CU Board of Regents took months to sort out what they were going to do with the handling of the Joe Tumpkin case, tarnishing the CU football program along the way.

In February, the Board brought in the Cozen O’Conner law firm (at a reported rate of $1,200/hour) to investigate the matter, sending shivers down the spine of many of a Buff fan. Renowned for having taken Baylor University to task for its handling of sexual misconduct, the presumption was that Cozen O’Conner was hired to find fault with the CU athletic department, regardless of the relative severity of the offenses.

Matters were not helped when Sports Illustrated, in February, posted a slanted story, “Seeking justice for alleged abuse, victim of Colorado assistant confronts big-time college football“.

As weeks dragged on into months, and as the Board of Regents delayed and delayed making a decision, speculation ran rampant, becoming more and more negative with time.

When the penalties were finally announced on June 12th, there was a sense of relief for many in the Buff Nation. Chancellor DiStefano was suspended for ten days (a penalty which many perceived as being too lenient), while athletic director Rick George and head coach Mike MacIntyre agreed to pay $100,000 each to organizations which address domestic violence.

The ramifications?

As President Bruce Benson put it, “Some will say these disciplinary actions go too far. Some will say they don’t go far enough. Not everyone will be happy”.

Not surprisingly, the victim’s attorney wanted more. The woman who alleges the abuse feels “betrayed and devastated” by the punishments, her attorney, Peter R. Ginsberg, told the Daily Camera. “Punishments are more severe for recruiting violations,” Ginsberg said.

Media CU haters, meanwhile, took out their poison pens. A sampling:

— Renowned Buff basher from the Denver Post Mark Kiszla, “Giving CU coach Mike MacIntyre $16.25 million contract now would send the wrong message“.

— From the Boulder Daily Camera, “Despite CU position, Joe Tumpkin investigation did not make conclusion about intent“.

— From the Colorado Springs Gazette,David Ramsey: CU, MacIntyre must remember this: Women’s safety, dignity more important than football victory“.

Still, the story did not make the national splash many of us feared it might. The articles posted on websites like ESPN, CBS Sports, and The Sporting News were largely just the Associated Press story, and by Wednesday, two days after the announcement, were gone from the headlines under the college football headings. Even at Sports Illustrated, which posted the one-sided February article, above, was relatively quiet (though there were reports that SI had reporters sniffing around campus this week, perhaps looking to post another inflammatory story).

The only “national” campaign against Colorado was posted by a writer at Football Scoop. The writer took to twitter Monday night, posting over 20 negative tweets in the first two hours after the announcement. The subsequent article, “Recapping Colorado’s review of Mike MacIntyre’s handling of domestic violence notice” has been posted (and should not be read by Buff fans who are running low on their high blood pressure medication).

Ramifications of the delayed contract extension upon CU’s reputation in the national media … not as bad as feared.

Mike MacIntyre

No one likes to be told they did something wrong.

No one likes negative publicity.

MacIntyre’s statement after the penalties were announced was contrite, but not fully apologetic. “I had never been in a situation where one of my coaches was accused of abusing a spouse or partner”, said MacIntyre. “But, as the regents and President Benson recognized, I never acted in bad faith”.

Coach MacIntyre has now received his contract extension, albeit with a few added clauses about training and reporting responsibilities. The Board of Regents, though, couldn’t even get that accomplished without an asterisk. The vote was “unanimous”, but only 8-0 instead of 9-0. Regent Linda Shoemaker left the meeting during the vote, then returned. “I was thirsty”, was the justification from Shoemaker. “No further comment”.

Nice.

”I appreciate the confidence in me the Board of Regents demonstrated by approving this extension,” MacIntyre said in a statement. ”I look forward to continuing to contribute to the success of our student-athletes in the classroom and community and on the football field.”

Okay, so Coach MacIntyre has his extension, and can get back to football.

But will he want to stay?

It would be only human for MacIntyre to feel underappreciated after what he has gone through over the past six months. True enough, there were some missteps on his part, but, arguably, he was put in a no-win situation by the alleged victim, and second-guessers have been all too eager to condemn his choices.

MacIntyre is not used to having his integrity called into question. He is a coach who is widely respected within the profession.

But would the wringer MacIntyre has been put through be enough to make him want to leave for greener pastures?

Well, if MacIntyre would leave CU of his own volition, he would first have to have a successful 2017 season, to demonstrate that the 2016 Rise was not just a fluke.

Then, it would have to be for a better gig than he has now.

That eliminates Group of Five schools, and at least half of the Power Five conference schools.

What about Georgia Tech – where MacIntyre went to school? Or Vanderbilt – where MacIntyre’s father coached?

Well, Georgia Tech went 9-4 last season … and Vanderbilt just gave its head coach, Derek Mason, a three-year contract extension after going bowling last fall.

Neither of those schools is likely to be looking for a new coach this December.

Vacancies in the SEC, ACC, the Big 12 and Big Ten come up every season, but it would likely have to an instance where a successful coach is leaving (say, to the NFL), where MacIntyre could step into a situation which was not another rebuild.

Ramifications of the delayed contract extension upon Mike MacIntyre wanting to leave CU … possible, but it would likely have to be a perfect storm of circumstances for MacIntyre to want to leave the momentum he has built in Boulder.

Rick George

Here, in my opinion, is the real concern.

Like MacIntyre, CU athletic director Rick George has agreed to contribute $100,000 to organizations which address domestic violence for his part in the handling of the Joe Tumpkin situation.

While George’s contract was not before the Board of Regents, he was as much on trial before the Board as Mike MacIntyre and Chancellor DiStefano.

Unlike MacIntyre, though, George has nothing left to prove at the University of Colorado.

– The Champions Center, a dream which had gotten no further than blueprints for a decade, became a reality under George.

– A school which was unable to raise more than $10 – $15 million per year suddenly found the wherewithal to raise over $100 million in three years.

– The once proud football program, mired in a decade of historically poor performance, has enjoyed a renaissance.

– The men’s basketball program has become so successful that a 19-win season, tied for 10th-best in the history of the program, is cause for grousing among the faithful.

– CU women’s programs are flourishing. The women’s track and field/cross country teams were voted the No. 2 team of the year. The women’s soccer team and lacrosse teams were both nationally ranked … with the lacrosse team ranked in the top ten nationally in just the fourth year of its existence.

In short, Rick George has nothing left to prove at the University of Colorado. He could walk out the front door of the Champions Center tomorrow, and still be considered one of the most successful athletic directors in the history of the school.

George’s alma mater, Illinois, recently came calling, but George stayed in Boulder.

If another school were to come calling in the near future, however, who could blame George for listening to what they had to say? (Not to mention opportunities in the professional ranks. Remember that George came to CU from the Texas Rangers, with a stint with the PGA Tour before that).

The loss of Rick George would be catastrophic. George is balancing the athletic department budget, even with a reported debt service on the Champions Center in the neighborhood of $14 million per year. He has resurrected the CU brand, and made the Buffs a viable player in the Pac-12 conference for the first time since the school joined the conference in 2011.

We can but hope that George will not see the penalties imposed by the Board of Regents as reason to seek a position elsewhere where he will be better appreciated.

Ramifications of the delayed contract extension upon Rick George wanting to leave CU … to be determined.

Mike MacIntyre agreed to a contract extension on January 9th. The contract is for $16.25 million over five years, beginning with a salary of $3.1 million for the 2017 season with modest increases annually.

It took the Colorado Board of Regents until June 15th to ratify the contract.

The Buff Nation is ready to move on. The Tumpkin trial and civil lawsuit notwithstanding, those in the Champions Center, including head coach Mike MacIntyre and athletic director Rick George, can also move on.

Let’s hope that a year from now … five years from now … they are both still there.

—–

6 Replies to “Ramifications”

  1. Good piece, Stu.

    Rick was in Boulder with Mac and Marolt. I think he’d like to bring another national championship in football back to Boulder. Let alone all the other unfinished business he can sink his teeth into (Final Four, anyone?).

    There’s politics at every job. Both these guys know that.

    Will they eventually move on to their next gig? Probably. As we know there are three things that happen to good “employees”:
    1) they get ownership in the enterprise – clearly, that won’t happen
    2) they get paid enough not to need an ownership stake; could be for Mac, $3mill+/yr ain’t bad; not so much for Rick (although I think he’s fine financially)
    3) they move on to their next big gig

    I’m hoping they’re both so stoked on being in Boulder, at CU, and the fun they’re having doing what they’re doing (knowing that there are hassles too, but… what profession is hassle free?) that they’ll both stay in their roles for a long, long time.

    We’ll see.

    Go Buffs.

  2. Maybe someone can explain to me what CU and the football program have to do about Tumpkin allegedly committing a crime, isn’t that the realm of the police? We all know that people accuse others of many things, some true and some not true, and if this woman was assaulted on numerous occasions and didn’t report it the first time, why should CU have anything to do with it? I always thought you were innocent until proven guilty, If someone comes into my office and complains of assault by one of my employees, I would hand them the phone with the police on the other end.

  3. Great analysis Stuart, and I agree too with Dennis. Having dealt with personnel issues for many years, I don’t know that what MM and RG did was at all out of line with what can be done legally. Perhaps they should have forwarded the concerns to the Title IX office and let that entity proceed, but since the complainant requested that they NOT tell anyone, what are their responsibilities at that point?

    I never expected MM to be here too long, as I felt that he saw CU as a stepping stone to something else. NO big deal, that is college athletics. Rick George (I believed) had arrived where he eventually wanted to be, and I thought that this might be his last stop. Who knows how he feels now, but if he moves on, the Regents can congratulate themselves on being monumentally stupid. A poor example of intellectual leadership for an academic institution. Perhaps they ought to be financially responsible for every accusation against CU that may or may not have merit.

  4. With 3 or 4 possible SEC openings (Tenn, A&M, Ark, Fla?) and a couple in the Pac 12, will coach Mac be tempted to say goodbye to CU after the way the Tumpkin situation was handled. Rick George has done a great job at CU, and will he look at greener pastures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.