Meet Me at the Crossroads: Where to Go After Mike Bohn

do you want In-N-Out or Roscoes? - Marc Piscotty

Where does the Colorado Athletic Department go after Mike Bohn?

In what was possibly the most perfect CU moment in recent history, Mike Bohn was let go by the university as the athletic director. What made it so perfect is that on it's face it appears to be poorly thought out, ill timed, and unexplained. If Bohn was on thin ice, then he should've been shown the door at the same time Embree was. Instead, he was allowed to fire a coach, hire a new coach, announce an extremely aggressive facilities project that will require an unprecedent donations drive, restructure the fundraising arm of the university so that he has more control of it, embark on a state wide caravan of coaches designed to garner goodwill of alumni, fans, and prospective donors... and then unceremoniously fired. Good job, good effort you guys.

Obviously, there is a sound argument to be made for removing Bohn. That argument is called the performance of the football program. That's why virtually no one would've batted an eye had Embree and Bohn shared the same awkward exit press conference. But that didn't happen, so therefore cannot be an excuse. The official company line appears to be that CU wants a leader who will run the athletic department like a business and do better in fundraising effort. Sounds fair.

Or it did until Bohn held his own press conference and claimed that he had met all of his incentive bonuses. Fundraising? Bohn has brought in more $1 million plus donations than everyone else at CU combined, and it's not close. There's also been more outreach to alumni on his watch than I ever remember previously. Run as a business? Bohn claimed that he balanced the budget in his first 6 years, and the last 2 were expected and signed off on by the university. A leader? Well things get trickier there.

I've always liked Bohn. I've met him once, and had email correspondence multiple times, and I've always found him to be passionate about the sports programs he oversees. He was never a stiff autocratic business guy who only had time for the guys with fat wallets. But I never saw him as a particularly strong leader. I doubt that's entirely his fault, seeing as that he has bosses, but a strong manager has the will, vision, and license to drive his department in the way he sees fit, knowing that his superiors have the trust in him to succeed. Wether he didn't have that because Benson or DiStefano are micromanaging nightmare or because Bohn simply didn't engender himself to that trust is up for debate and likely only known to Benson and DiStefano. That said, the latter parties have hardly earned the benefit of the doubt.

But Bohn used a search firm to hire Dan Hawkins, and wasn't allowed to fire him when he wanted. He had Jon Embree forced upon him. We saw George Solich leading the tour of Folsom with Butch Jones, which was poor optics at best, and a complete debacle at worst. The roll out of the new facilities project seemed muddled and directionless at best. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of his leadership. He did hire Tad Boyle when the popular choices were either Steve McClain or Mike Dunlap, and for that he deserves major credit. He also hired Linda Lappe, ushered in the new women's lacrosse program, and spearheaded the fantastic practice facility for basketball and volleyball. So "leadership" is... muddled at best. He did get results- just not football related results. Personally, my theory (and it's a tangentially sourced and extremely flimsy theory) is that Bohn never wanted Embree, and said he could not fundraise with Embree as coach. He was allowed to fire Embree and then... still couldn't fundraise at a level acceptable to his bosses. That's all I've got.

So that leads us to the crossroads- where do we go from here? First and foremost, we've got to hire a new athletic director. What does that mean? What are we really looking for? Whoever we hire will no doubt have difficult decisions to make in the future, but for now, his or her job is to implement the vision of Mike Bohn. All of Bohn's coaches are in place. The facilities plan is in place. A new athletic director's job at present is simply to raise funds based on the fact that he (or she) is not Mike Bohn, and can do a better job of being Mike Bohn than Mike Bohn, whatever that means. I've worked in sales, and you're only as good as the product you have to sell. The next AD has to sell Mike Bohn. How is that remotely plausible? And who would want such a job? I love that Mike was such a passionate proponent of CU athletics, but that does not a great AD make. If it was, I would be crowned king of the athletic department and Benjamin Burrows would be my assistant AD in charge of basketball and lacrosse (suck it up, Burrows!).

But that's not the case. We need a guy who can raise money, basically. He has to sell what is already available to be sold. We're not adding any new sports. If you like baseball- shut up. You're an idiot. When it comes time to add sports, I expect that baseball (and softball) will be behind swimming and diving, which would benefit from being cheap and gaining the same edge from training at altitude that track and cross country have. After that would be gymnastics, and other cheap ass sports that are sponsored by the Pac 12. Baseball is expensive and men's lacrosse isn't sponsored by the Pac 12, so please please please just forget about them. Also hockey.

The new AD will have to sell what we have, and be better at it than Mike Bohn. We've got a marketing guy. We've got a football coach. We've got a basketball coach. As for Mike Bohn? His termination agreement included over $900K and 8 season tickets for football, men's basketball, and women's basketball for the remainder of his lifetime. Tell me he isn't passionate about CU sports. If Mike gets a new AD job, I volunteer to use his seats for the Kansas game. I also wouldn't be surprised to see him find a job with Chuck Neinas's search firm, which would earn him a healthy salary, stay involved in college athletics, and maintain a base in Boulder. We could all wish for such a fate.
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