Mike Bohn, out as CU-Boulder athletic director, gets $918K golden parachute

Last November, the subtitle to our post about the firing of CU-Boulder football coach Jon Embree posed the question, "A sacrifice by AD Mike Bohn to save his own job?"

If so, the strategy didn't work over the long haul. Bohn has now resigned as CU-Boulder's athletic director in a classic jump-or-we'll-push scenario.

But his landing won't be as bumpy as it could have been thanks to a golden parachute worth $918,000.

This information comes to us courtesy of 7News, which obtained a copy of Bohn's settlement agreement with the university, to which he was under contract until 2016. The money will be paid in three lumps over the next several years -- and that's not all. The agreement states that "Bohn shall be provided as further consideration for his release of claims, eight season tickets to Colorado football, men's basketball and women's basketball games for his remaining lifetime."

Those basketball tickets are to be prized, but eight tickets per game for CU-Boulder football sounds more like punishment right now. The program is in tatters -- and Bohn had a lot to do with the debacle. During his tenure, Bohn fired three head football coaches: Gary Barnett, Dan Hawkins and Embree. And the last one was mishandled in pretty much every way.

Onetime coach Bill McCartney maintained that the latter sacking was an example of racism, since the African-American Embree was given his walking papers after just two years, as opposed to the five allowed to Hawkins, the man most responsible for figuratively driving the Buffs bus into a cliff. Then, the Denver Post reported that CU had hired Cincinnati coach Butch Jones to fill the job only to have the story fall apart shortly thereafter -- and while no one's ever acknowledged being the paper's source for the scoop-that-wasn't, some of Bohn's subsequent statements turned plenty of speculation his way.

Granted, Bohn managed to land his second choice, San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre. But the PR hit over Jones was considerable.

Still, such stumbles wouldn't have doomed Bohn if he'd been able to keep the moolah pouring in -- the real job of an athletic director at a major university. According to the Post, "some people in the university community felt that the athletic department was already underperforming" when it came to cash collecting, and with the announcement earlier this year of a $170 million sports-facilities upgrade (followed shortly thereafter by an unrelated but awkwardly timed 8.7 percent tuition increase), doubts about Bohn's ability as a pitchman couldn't have boosted his standing with his bosses.

Not every problem with CU-Boulder athletics should be left at Bohn's door, and the success of the basketball program under Tad Boyle, whom he hired, is certainly deserving of praise. But whether or not the Embree matter made donors less willing to open their wallets, Bohn wasn't viewed as capable of cleaning up the mess. And apparently the administration felt it was worth spending almost a million bucks to insure he wouldn't be tasked with doing so.

Here's a copy of the goodbye e-mail Bohn sent to his colleagues to announce his resignation.

To all my valued colleagues,

I am very disappointed to not be able to share this with you in person as you know I respect the hard work and dedication you all demonstrate daily.

Regrettably, I am resigning as Athletic Director effective immediately. I believe it is best given the current circumstances. They want to go in a different direction and that is their prerogative. This is a very disappointing, troubling and shocking development as we have made so much progress together over the past 8 years.

I want to ensure you know, as my official separation agreement states, that I have not engaged in any impropriety, NCAA rule violations, university policy violation or any immoral, dishonest, or other sort of misconduct.

Our Guiding Principles are a wonderful tool for us to stand on during challenging times like this. We have distinguished ourselves on the national level with our integrity and commitment to our Student-Athletes.

I am so grateful of the entire Department of Athletics team we built together and I want you to know that I am proud and honored to have worked with you in growing our enterprise. I CARE deeply about each and every one of our terrific Coaches, Staff and Student-Athletes. We have made tremendous progress together and I urge you to continue to stand Shoulder to Shoulder in representing our institution with class and distinction.

My family and I have given all of our hearts and soul to the program and I urge you to continue to do the same. Go Buffs!


More from our Education archive: "Photos: CU-Boulder proposes 8.7 percent tuition hike after $170M sports-facilities-upgrade pitch."

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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

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