Bohn Off and Running

<b>Mike Bohn</b> met with reporters, members of the athletic department and anyone else who cared to stop by Wednesday for a press conference announcing his hiring as new athletic director. Roughly 150 people attended the gathering. Inside, extended excerpts from the press conference.

Bohn went against the grain and elected to hold the press conference outside the confines of the Dal Ward Athletic Center and in a grassy area near the middle of campus. It was symbolic of his vision to integrate athletics more into the university community.

Bohn comes to his new job from the AD position at San Diego State, one he held since 2003. It's a homecoming for Bohn, as he's a 1979 graduate of Boulder High School.

He's hit the ground running and has already met with members of the Foundation, CU's fundraising arm, as well as met with athletic department staff and coaches. He had dinner with Gary Barnett Tuesday night.

He is currently working as CU AD, but his appointment date is effective pending approval by the CU Board of Regets, which meet April 27-28. Once approved, Bohn will sign a five-year contract worth $250,000 in base salary in his first year, with an incentives clause that could increase that by $100,000.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano introduced Bohn.

Opening Comments

Mike Bohn: I really appreciate everyone coming out today on a bright sunshiny day that I think really embodies the spirit that I feel right now in the department, on campus and I hope in the community. I think it's really important for us to engage every constituent group that makes our program great — donors, fans, students, coaches, staff, the media, people that help present some of the great things that happen here on campus.

It's really exciting to learn so much in such a short time about the great things that our staff and coaches are doing. To hear just this morning that administrators are on the East Coast talking to prospective students about the University of Colorado; they expected 85 and they had over 300.

People need to understand and see that the University of Colorado is a diamond. Right now it needs a little polishing in some certain areas, but there's some great things in place.

Before I can say much more, I think it's really important for me to say how appreciative I am to have had the opportunity to work with Steven Weber, the president at San Diego State University. I learned more from him in the shortest amount of time than anybody I've ever worked for. Steve Webber is a great president and a president that understands and appreciates athletics.

When you begin to look at other opportunities you're looking for similar traits, and I think that I saw that from Day 1 with Phil DiStefano and his vision, and also Ric Porecca (search committee chair), the coaches that are here and the staff that is here. That's why it's exciting to be part of this team.

I talked earlier about the fact that we need to work together and unite and do everything we can to present the program as one that we can all take pride in.

It's exciting as a Boulder native to come back and see that we can pull all of this together. We have some issues to work on, but we also have some great things as a foundation for us to work from.

It's an honor and a pleasure to be here to work with you and to work with students who are walking by wondering, ‘Who's that guy talking and saying Go Buffs?" But you know what? I think it is about them, and their heartbeat and their passion and their spirit.

I just couldn't be prouder to be here. My family is excited to be here. We're starting to work right away. We started yesterday with some new (fundraising) initiatives.

I think this is a big day for our athletic program, for this university, for the city of Boulder and the state of Colorado. It's time for all of us to unite together and build this into something very special.

Q: For the 2006 schedule, 12th game addition. Any chance you'll add San Diego State?
MB:
(laughs)I don't know about that. I told John Burianek, we've had this discussion when I was sitting in a different chair about scheduling San Diego State and Colorado. I've had some time to sit down and talk with Gary (Barnett) and talk about scheduling. But we've got to be smart. We've got to bring in great games that make sense for us regionally.

Q: Do you see any similarities between the program here and the ones you worked for at Idaho and SDSU?
MB:
There are many similarities. When you begin to look at college athletics, it takes everybody to be involved. At the University of Idaho we were fortunate to have great support, and at San Diego State, from the central administration to the chancellor's office to everywhere on the campus. That's really important.

One thing I failed to address in my opening is the importance of a longterm vision. There's no question that that's got to be a priority for me and the decisions we make — we need to do things for the longterm.

Things are not going to happen overnight. We're going to have to work hard. We're going to make decisions that are sound fiscally, sound based on building longterm relationships with everyone we deal with. Whether it's a corporate sponsor, whether it's a donor, whether it's the coaching staff, we're going to do everything we can to build things for the longterm.

Q: Can the controversy that plagued the department be put behind it?
MB:
At San Diego State and at the University of Idaho and at many universities across the country there's challenges. That's not unique to the University of Colorado. But I believe that many of those (challenges) are behind it and I'm really looking forward to rallying with the people that we have, the staff and the supporters, fans and donors and sponsors — I think it's important for them to understand their role too. With their support and their engagement and keeping the student body engaged, things will turn around a lot faster than if we continue to worry about what happened in the past.

Q: So the answer would be "yes?"
MB:
Absolutely.

Q: What's your first order of business?
MB:
The first thing I wanted to do is join the booster club. I think it's important that the athletic director and the members of his staff are committed to the importance of donations, and I've got to lead the way there.

I know that's just a symbol, but I had a great day yesterday speaking with the foundation about our fundraising efforts, our marketing efforts.

The most important thing I can do is come in here and support those 17 sports and those student-athletes with a level of energy and enthusiasm because I want to create every opportunity I can for them to be successful.

I know they've gone through some significant budget cuts, and I've got to find a way to restore that, to inspire people to be involved with this program, have some fun with it and help them be successful.

Q: You have a unique reporting structure here for an athletic director. What's your view of that?
MB:
I think there's too much made of reporting structure, and I don't think it amounts to a hill of beans, to be honest with you. When I took the job at San Diego State, I didn't report to the president, and everybody thought that was the craziest thing.

Let me tell you, I reported to the vice president of finance, and it was the smartest decision ever. It's a team game and there's no question that the chancellor and the president and everybody has a role. But that's way overrated. It's about bringing people together, having quality people and working together and building that team.

I think if you're writing about that or spending time on that I think you're wasting a lot of time. I respect the question and I'm glad you asked that, but again when you talk about the leadership of the chancellor and other people, they all have a role to play. We've got to bring all those constituent groups together and let everybody know their role is significant and that we need them.

Q: A lot of people want to know who's in charge of the athletic department, and did you get satisfaction about your level of authority when you went through the interview process, considering you were leaving the SDSU job?
MB:
You hit the nail on the head when you're talking about leaving a great institution and leaving a great president. And right away it was evident here that the leadership is outstanding. They understand these issues and they want this program to succeed in every way. They want our student-athletes to graduate. That was never in doubt.

Your question identifies the first five questions that I had on my sheet to officials at the University of Colorado and they answered every one right on. In the times that I've talked with the chancellor and with Ric, it's been a very, very comfortable discussion. And that's awesome. That doesn't come easily, and I don't take that for granted. I think that people need to understand that the leadership at the University of Colorado is trying to build this program the right way.

(at this point, Chancellor Phil DiStefano took the podium to further address that question).
Phil DiStefano:
The athletic director will have full authority and responsibility in running the athletic department.

More from Bohn
MB:
There are opportunities for us to improve and do a better job of being user friendly. We've got to be user friendly – to the media, to our student-athletes, to our coaches, our fan base, to the faculty. It's because all those folks are what's going to make our program successful.

There are some great things in place – terrific coaches and outstanding student-athletes and they just need to be supported. We need to do everything we can to help them be champions.

We're trying to get everyone on the same page from the get-go so that we can unite everyone and let people know that we're headed in the right direction. Let's get this diamond shined up a little bit.

Q: How important is it going to be to give a strong statement of support for Gary Barnett? Do you see that as something you need to do?
MB:
I'm not sure that there's any need for a strong statement. Gary's our coach and I'm looking forward to working with him and all of our coaches. We're going to do everything we can for them to be successful on and off the field. We're going to go to work.

I had a great opportunity to spend some time with Gary when I arrived and he and I went to dinner last night. As I said, this is a very comfortable situation. People understand that if we build the program the right way that we can make people proud about our program and make people engaged and be a part of it.

If you're trying to polarize or bring it down to one specific sound-byte or something like that, I don't think that'd be accurate. That's the truth. We're going to work together, and I expect him to be the great leader that football coaches at this level are.

Q: A lot of people are watching to see what comes out of the IRS audit of his football camp. They think his future hinges on that. Do you think it does, or is it too soon to comment on that?
MB:
I think it would be premature to try and predict different things that could happen. Right now we're focused on building our teamwork and our place on campus.

You know what? Head coaches are a part of that. Head coaches are the stars of any viable athletic department, so I expect our coaches to be exactly that. That's the same for all of them.

Q: You had people close to you that knew the situation at CU and they advised you not to take the job. What did you say to them about why you decided to take it?
MB:
I think the ones that talked to me about that are people that are close enough to me who recognized the outstanding environment we had at San Diego State. I think they were simply trying to protect me. But then when they began to recognize this opportunity maybe comes along once in a lifetime — the opportunity to be the athletic director in your hometown, and also to be at an athletic program with a great history, a great tradition, a great stature in a great conference. And the ability to be able to do that for the longterm is what makes it great. The hometown is the bonus, it's the icing on the cake.

I believe I have the energy and the experience and the youthfulness to be a perfect fit and to be a leader and help make a difference in it vs. saying I'm going to allow something to happen to me. I feel like I want to go in there and join with the forces and make it happen, make it go.

Q: Will you bring in your own people here?
MB:
We have no open positions on the staff right now. I am not a believer in coming in and cleaning house. We have good people who are hardworking people that are dedicated who need to be held together as a team so we can do some great stuff.

From Day 1 when I met with them yesterday at 8 a.m., I said, ‘Let's go, and let's have a great attitude.' I think that goes back to the theme of being user friendly. If we have a great attitude, it'll be contagious and we'll attract others with a great attitude. That's what I expect our coaches and our staff to do.

Q: What can you tell us about the new women's basketball coach (Frank Borseth)?
MB:
We have a candidate on campus today. His interview process will continue today and tomorrow. I believe I'm scheduled to meet with him tomorrow. Maybe we'll have an announcement for you tomorrow.

I think it's important for you all to understand that Karen Morrison and Ceal Barry and Jack Lengyel and that group have really done a nice job of bringing that all together.

Q: Do you support that candidate?
MB:
Oh, absolutely. And I salute the work of the committee. I wish I could have been a little more involved in the process, but I have tremendous faith in Ceal and Karen and the committee. I've had the opportunity to talk to many coaches that I know in the business, and they give glowing remarks about our candidate.

Q: How much will you rely on the counsel of Jack Lengyel during the transition period and what do you need to know from him?
MB:
I believe there's another example of someone who helped lay some great groundwork in place. Jack will probably be with us through the end of the month. He took copious notes and interviews. You ought to see my desk the way he's got it lined up. It's just like you would expect a Naval guy to have it laid out.

Jack is a big part of allowing this transition to really go right away. I feel like I've been given the keys to the car and we've got the pedal to the metal.

On former CU AD Dick Tharp
MB:
I consider Dick a friend. When Tom Jurich and I were working together at Colorado State, Tom left to go to the University of Louisville right in the middle of the negotiations about playing the Colorado-Colorado State game at Mile High.

I was the lead negotiator after Tom left, and Dick and I worked together there. I thought that Dick was honest and enjoyable to work with. He's always been great to me.

Mark Simpson declared ‘cancer free' by doctor
CU men's golf coach Mark Simpson underwent surgery to remove part of a lung Monday after being diagnosed with lung cancer last fall. While his doctors said they felt positive about the surgery, they needed to wait for test results to make a final statement.

Word came last night that 100 percent of the tissue removed for examination was cancer free, and Simpson's oncologist declared the longtime CU coach "cancer free."

Bohn responded to the news: "That's great news. He's another part of the team that we've got to have."


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