Crime

For Pam Fine, Surviving a CU Coach's Abuse Was Just the Beginning

A Facebook photo of Pam Fine.
A Facebook photo of Pam Fine. Facebook
Despite charges based on more than 100 instances of abuse he'd allegedly committed, former University of Colorado Boulder assistant coach Joe Tumpkin was offered a sweetheart deal, with prosecutors promising to drop five felony counts if he'd plead guilty to a single misdemeanor, third-degree assault. But at a hearing last week, the agreement's finalization and Tumpkin's sentencing were set aside until early 2019 thanks to the efforts of Pam Fine, his victim.

Fine, speaking from her home in Michigan, expresses gratitude that the proceedings have been rescheduled for next February, when she'll be able to attend. In her words, "I was extremely appreciative that the judge read my objection and honored my wishes, and I am looking forward to having the opportunity just to be heard."

Yet Fine feels "as if my voice in the case has not been coming through in the prosecutors' statements, and that part has been difficult. Because I'm a pretty strong woman, and I have no problem speaking my truth and standing by it."

That's been clear since the February 2017 publication of a Sports Illustrated article in which she talked in detail about what Tumpkin had done to her and the ways in which then-CU head coach Mike MacIntyre and other individuals at the university had failed to act when she told them about the violence she had suffered at his hands.

Joe Tumpkin's official CU Buffs portrait.
CUBuffs.com file photo
As reported by Sports Illustrated, Fine, who originally maintained her anonymity before deciding to divulge her identity later that year, began trying to reach MacIntyre and his wife, Trisha, with whom she was friendly, in early December 2016 and finally succeeded on December 9, eleven days before a restraining order against Tumpkin was granted.

During a subsequent conversation, she told SI that MacIntyre had been kind and solicitous. Yet Tumpkin remained on the CU payroll until January 6, when a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera reached out to CU associate athletic director Dave Plati for comment about the allegations against the assistant coach. Only then was Tumpkin suspended, and he resigned under pressure on January 27, after he was charged with five counts of second-degree (felony) assault and three counts of third-degree (misdemeanor) assault.

A subsequently released arrest affidavit outlined even more examples of the savagery contained in a request for a restraining order that had previously been made public, and the details created an optics problem for CU when it came to extending head coach MacIntyre's contract. A pact had been assembled in the afterglow from the Buffs' best season in ages and MacIntyre being named the Home Depot Coach of the Year, but it was put on hold pending an investigation of the matter launched under the supervision of former U.S. senator Ken Salazar.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts