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Buffs AD Bohn Ousted; Football's Importance Underlined

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After being shown a letter by university chancellor Phil DiStefano last Thursday that said he had "materially failed" at his job, Mike Bohn, right, submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday after eight years as the University of Colorado's athletic director. Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images.
After being shown a letter by university chancellor Phil DiStefano last Thursday that said he had "materially failed" at his job, Mike Bohn, right, submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday after eight years as the University of Colorado's athletic director. Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images.

How can a man who shepherds a university into a better conference, helps turn around two basketball programs and secures funding to pay for a multi-million-dollar practice facility be ousted from his job as the university’s athletic director?

The answer is simple, really: football.

Whether fans, players and coaches like it or not, football is king in college athletics.

Just ask Mike Bohn, the University of Colorado’s athletic director of eight years who submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday. Bohn’s accomplishments and successes were carried out all over campus — except at Folsom Field.

That ultimately cost him his job.

According to reports, CU chancellor Phil DiStefano called Bohn into his office last Thursday, during which time DiStefano gave Bohn a letter that stated, in part, that he had “materially failed” as an athletic director. That forced Bohn to turn in his resignation letter Tuesday. His resignation is effective immediately.

“They want to go in a different direction and that is their prerogative,” Bohn wrote. “This is a very disappointing, troubling and shocking development as we have made so much process together over the past 8 years.”

That progress included Bohn’s architecting of CU’s move from the Big-12 Conference to the Pac-12, his hiring of two basketball coaches — Tad Boyle (men’s) and Linda Lappe (women’s) — who have worked absolute wonders for the Buffs and his efforts to raise money to pay for the $11-million practice building outside of the Coors Events Center.

These are just a few of his accomplishments.

Ah, but what about football?

This is where Bohn’s report card takes a major hit.

After he was hired in April 2005, Bohn proceeded to fire former coach Gary Barnett after the Buffs finished 7-5 that season. That’s the Buffs’ last winning season to this day.

Bohn then replaced Barnett with former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, who in five years produced an overall record of 19-39 before getting fired with three games left in the 2010 season (the Buffs went 2-1 in those three).

Then, when CU fans thought the program couldn’t sink any lower, it did.

After Hawkins came CU alumnus Jon Embree, whose two teams posted a combined record of 4-21. Embree was fired in December after two seasons.

If you’re counting, that’s a 25-61 record (.291 winning percentage) in football on his watch. That’s unacceptable in college athletics, and that’s a big reason why Bohn is now looking for another job.

The trouble that Bohn had in raising money for upgrades at Folsom Field was another area that hurt him badly.

In February, he and DiStefano outlined to the CU Board of Regents a plan for roughly $170 million in upgrades at Folsom Field. Bohn said the project wouldn’t begin, though, until the department raised $50 million in donations. That project is reportedly not moving along as quickly as originally hoped.

DiStefano on Wednesday said he will be looking for a replacement athletic director who can “help us with fundraising goals” and “take us to the next level.”

What does that mean? It means that, in today’s world of college athletics, if an athletic director succeeds at all levels and fails at one, his job will never be safe.

Bohn found that out the hard way last week.