FORT COLLINS – Colorado State University President Tony Frank said Friday that he fired Athletic Director Jack Graham and that a national search will take place to find new leadership for the department.
CSU will share details on the national search later this month, CSU said in a statement.
“While I am grateful to Jack for the energy he’s brought to CSU in establishing a culture that expects excellence within Ram Athletics and his actions in hiring great coaches and staff, there have come to exist some substantial differences in our views,” Frank said in the statement. “Based on our differences, I have chosen to exercise the termination for convenience clause within Jack’s contract to allow the university and the athletic department to move forward, building on the successes that Jack brought to our program.”
The termination for convenience provision allowed the university to terminate Graham’s contract at any time for any reason.
Graham, who played quarterback for the CSU Rams football team from 1973-74, started as athletic director in 2011 after retiring from a 30-year career in insurance markets. The fifth highest-paid employee at CSU, Graham had a five-year contract with an annual salary of $260,000.
Graham will continue to receive salary and benefits for 90 days, according to CSU. After that and until his contract ends Nov. 16, he will receive monthly payments totaling his base salary of $260,000, less any compensation that he earns through subsequent employment. All of the costs will be paid with private funds, CSU said.
Graham had planned to revamp the entire athletics department, and he had been a vocal proponent of building an on-campus CSU stadium to replace aging Hughes Stadium west of CSU.
Frank plans to report to the university’s Board of Governors in October about the proposed on-campus stadium and will discuss the impact of the leadership change as part of that presentation. CSU said, however, that Frank’s decision to terminate Graham’s employment was “unrelated to the stadium issue.”
Graham’s termination comes as fundraising efforts for the proposed $226 million stadium appear to have fallen short of expectations. CSU acknowledged recently that it had raised just $24.2 million for the stadium, less than a quarter of what Tony Frank had sought to raise by October.
Frank said the university would not have further comment beyond the statement it issued. Graham could not be reached for comment.
“Our athletic department has made great strides in the last few years, and I wholeheartedly expect that progress to continue,” Frank said. “This in no way diminishes our institutional commitment to excellence in athletics.”
“We’re excited about the future of our program and looking forward to a great year,” Frank added.
Frank named Deputy Athletic Director John Morris as interim director of athletics.
In its search for a new director, CSU said its priority will be to hire someone with the “vision to continue to build on recent momentum.”
“As I have always said, athletics is a key part of our overall success as an institution, and we’ll be looking for the kind of positive, forward-thinking leadership that can play a pivotal role in our continued overall success as an institution,” Frank said.