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Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Colorado athletic director resigns

Series of scandals forces Buffaloes AD to step down

November 23, 2004

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— University of Colorado athletics director Dick Tharp resigned Monday, acknowledging that his bosses wanted him out after a recruiting scandal and allegations of financial mismanagement had stained the school's reputation.

Investigators scrutinized Tharp and football coach Gary Barnett after allegations that sex and alcohol were used to entice recruits, and lawsuits accused players and recruits of sexual assault.

Barnett was suspended in the spring but kept his job and will coach the Buffs in their regular-season finale Friday against Nebraska.

Tharp, 56, will step aside Nov. 30.

"I am fully aware of the fact that various parties have called for my resignation," he said in a letter to provost Phil DiStefano, who oversees the athletics department. "Healing might be better achieved by my resignation."

He called the turmoil of the past several months "the most frustrating experience of my life" but said his resignation wasn't an admission of wrongdoing.

This month, new allegations surfaced about fund-raising efforts by a small booster club, a business deal between Barnett and a CU regent and other financial mismanagement issues. The booster-club issue compelled school officials to report the case to the NCAA.

Last summer, a grand jury, an independent commission and the university investigated the recruiting and sexual abuse allegations. No sexual assault charges were filed, but one former aide was indicted on charges of soliciting a prostitute and misusing his university cell phone.

The independent commission concluded that some players arranged sex, drugs and alcohol for recruits without the knowledge of coaches.

The commission harshly criticized Tharp and other administrators, accusing them of lax oversight. Tharp's duties were severely curtailed and the department was put under DiStefano's supervision.

Despite the turmoil and questions about Barnett's own job security, the Buffaloes are bowl-eligible at 6-4.

Tharp has spent 25 years at Colorado, his alma mater, including nine as athletic director.

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