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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: COLLEGE: Tharp steps down as Colorado AD after tumultuous year

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posted on Nov, 22 2004 @ 06:25 PM
BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado athletic director Dick Tharp resigned Monday, ending a nine-year tenure sullied by accusations of recruiting violations and fiscal mismanagement.

The resignation came just months after the school's football program was rocked by allegations that sex and alcohol were used to entice recruits, and lawsuits accused players or recruits of sexual assault.

New allegations about fund-raising problems surfaced this month. The school told the NCAA last week that a small booster club that had not been audited under university auspices bought equipment for the athletic department, an NCAA violation.

Tharp said his resignation was not an admission of wrongdoing.

"The record will show that I performed my duties responsibly and in the best interests of the department of athletics and the University of Colorado," he wrote in his resignation letter.

A grand jury, an independent commission and the university investigated the recruiting and sexual abuse allegations. No sexual assault charges were filed, but one former recruiting aide was indicted on charges of soliciting a prostitute and misusing his university cell phone.

The independent commission concluded that some players arranged sex, drugs and alcohol for recruits without the knowledge of coaches. The commission harshly criticized Tharp and other administrators, accusing them of lax oversight.

Also, three women said they were raped at or after a December 2001 off-campus party attended by players and recruits. The women sued the university; their lawsuits are pending in Denver federal court.

The university curtailed Tharp's powers after the investigations, and the athletic department, which previously was largely independent, was put under the supervision of provost Phil DiStefano.

Tharp's support had been eroding among boosters, in part because he proposed charging football season-ticket holders a surcharge in an attempt to raise badly needed revenue.

Despite the turmoil and questions about football coach Gary Barnett's own job security, the Buffaloes are 6-4 and in contention for the Big 12 title game.

"I don't think this will affect them," Barnett said after Tharp's resignation.

Colorado's regular-season finale is Friday against Nebraska, a game the Buffaloes must win to make the title game.



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