This weekend, after the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes football team was crushed 30-7 by the Utah Utes for its sixth straight defeat (after five wins to begin the season), head coach Mike MacIntyre was fired just over a year after he signed a pricey five-year contract extension.
Pamela Fine, who says MacIntyre dropped the ball after she told him about being abused by former Buffs assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, took no delight in this development. But while she expressed sympathy for MacIntyre's family in a series of tweets that followed his November 18 sacking, she also wrote that he should have been dismissed for his actions ( or lack thereof) regarding her long before a losing record sealed his fate. And she also castigates the CU Board of Regents, athletic director Rick George, chancellor Phil DiStefano and outgoing president Bruce Benson.
The Tumpkin matter went national in early 2017, thanks to a February 3 article in Sports Illustrated in which Fine is referred to as "Jane." (She filed a lawsuit under her own name that September.) The piece revealed that after being abused by Tumpkin more than 100 times, by her estimate, Fine began reaching out to MacIntyre and his wife, Trisha, early in December 2016 and finally succeeded in reaching the coach on December 9. At first MacIntyre was reportedly kind and solicitous. Yet Tumpkin remained on the CU payroll until January 6, 2017, when a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera reached out to CU associate athletic director Dave Plati for comment about the allegations against Tumpkin. Only then was Tumpkin suspended, and he resigned under pressure on January 27, 2017, after he was charged with five counts of second-degree (felony) assault and three counts of third-degree (misdemeanor) assault.
An investigation of the matter was subsequently launched under the supervision of former U.S. senator Ken Salazar, and in June 2017, CU's Board of Regents unveiled the results. The report found that assorted officials erred in the way they handled the matter, with DiStefano earning a ten-day suspension and MacIntyre and George being directed to make $100,000 donations to a CU Boulder domestic-violence fund.
Shortly thereafter, the aforementioned contract extension for MacIntyre was approved. It gave him a raise of nearly $1 million per annum plus an additional $100,000 (the exact amount of his ordered donation) to be paid on the last day of 2021, when the pact expires.
Fine's response to the MacIntyre dismissal began with the retweet of a Buffzone.com piece about the move. She supplemented the link with this line: "Such a painful and difficult 2 years for everyone involved...."
A few hours later, Fine followed up with a new message: "This is what an abused person sounds like when they finally reach out to a trusted person for help. Transcribed from Coach MacIntyre’s cell phone by investigators. He blocked my calls & he was the only person I told. The Regents knew this & gave him a new contract."
Accompanying the tweet is the aforementioned transcript, which reads:
Hi, Coach Mac. I understand that I guess you probably aren't gonna speak with me and I understand. I just wanted to let you know that I just got a call from a defense attorney representing Joe Tumpkin. I just, I don't think I was anticipating that, I don't know, I don't know what's going on, I don't know, like, you know, and he's like I understand you called Coach MacIntyre, and you know, I just, I don't know, I just, I don't know, I was just, was trying to keep you abreast of what I was doing and trying to protect the team and all of that and I'm, I'm just really confused. So all right, like I said, I'm probably not allowed to contact you, I don't know. I don't even know who this man is, but he just told me about how I would be hurting you and the team and, so anyway, I guess Joe has lawyered up and I don't know. Okay. I don't really know what to do. Like I just talked to you. I don't, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I'll consult with my family. I just wanted to let you know I got a call from an attorney saying that I understand you called Coach MacIntyre and saying I'm representing Joe Tumpkin. Okay. Take care.
Then, just shy of 8 p.m. last night, November 18, Fine began sharing her reaction in greater detail.
"I have had a lot of people reach out to me today asking for my thoughts on the firing of Coach MacIntyre," she noted. "There is no joy in another person’s pain. Coach MacIntyre is loved very much by his wife & kids. Knowing that they are hurting makes me sad for them."
She added: "I know that the firing of Coach MacIntyre means that people I really care about could also lose their jobs. There are some great families on the Buff coaching staff."
Nonetheless, she stated her belief that MacIntyre "should have been terminated for his action and inaction following my call to him. Read the report. It is all there. Blocked calls, lies to investigators, elevating my abuser."
At that point, she expanded her critique beyond the coach: "If you condemn Mike MacIntyre for his role in what happened yet praise Rick George, then it is disingenuous. Both men were found to have violated FIVE policies. Both of their contracts said they could be terminated for their actions."
Moreover, she continued, "The CU Regents are as culpable, if not more, for the $10,000,000 paycheck being paid to a man who placed last in 5 of 6 seasons. The Regents approved $1,000,000 to investigate my story in Sports Illustrated. A million dollars."
Citing "months of investigations," she stressed that "4 men knew that I was abused by their coach. President Benson, Chancellor DiStefano, RG, & Mac. They knew the details of my abuse from my police report on December 19. Mac was asked to come to the station to be interviewed on Dec 20. Alamo Bowl? Dec 28."
CU's regents "paid Ken Salazar half a million dollars to write a report about the real report," she allowed. "The Regents voted unanimously to approve new contract only 2 days after fining Mac for his role in what happened. [Regent] Linda Shoemaker didn’t vote because she was 'thirsty' at voting.
Her conclusion: "Joe Tumpkin abused me horribly. I trusted Mike MacIntyre & I called him to help Joe. Mac blocked me and never has spoken to me since. He told my abuser, gave him the Buff booster lawyer’s number, and promoted Joe. However, I take no joy in today. I just feel sad for us all."
That should include CU's bean counters: MacIntyre is still owed $10.3 million on his deal, the university acknowledged in a release, and while the amount will be reduced by the amount of his new salary should he get hired to coach elsewhere at the collegiate or professional level, the obligation doesn't go away. But CU stresses that "none of the funds will come from tuition money, taxpayer dollars or the campus general fund."
One more thing: Fine launched a Change.org petition last month amid reports that Tumpkin would be offered a plea bargain that she regards as a slap on the wrist.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.