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Tharp cites 'Appearance of Impropriety'

BOULDER, Colo. -- University of Colorado athletic director
Dick Tharp is resigning as a director of the Liquor Mart store near
campus.

But he is keeping his minority stake in the store, despite
concerns from members of a panel that investigated the use of
alcohol in football recruiting that the partial ownership suggested
a conflict with his work on campus.

Tharp told CU-Boulder Chancellor Richard Byyny and CU President
Betsy Hoffman in a May 3 memo that he would scale back his role
with the store.

"I felt like it was just giving an appearance of impropriety,
and it was probably better to avoid an appearance of impropriety,"
Tharp said Thursday.

Tharp said his continuing partial ownership of the store, like
his other investments, is not relevant to his job.

CU's athletic department has come under scrutiny amid a football
recruiting scandal centering on allegations of sexual misconduct
and alcohol abuse, and an investigating commission probing the
scandal questioned Tharp's role with the store.

The commission last month concluded that sex and alcohol were
present at recruiting activities, but there was no evidence that CU
officials knowingly sanctioned it.

At least nine women have reported being sexually assaulted by CU
football players and recruits since 1997, and many of the alleged
attacks involved alcohol.

After the investigating commission released its conclusions,
Byyny and Hoffman said Tharp would keep his job but that he will
lose some of his responsibilities as the university increases its
oversight of athletics.

Tharp said Byyny and Hoffman never discussed his involvement in
the store.

"Athletic director Tharp's involvement with that local business
has been fully disclosed from the beginning," CU spokeswoman
Pauline Hale said. "It was his personal decision to take the high
road and announce his plan to resign from the board."

Tharp has said Liquor Mart has been a strong opponent of
underage drinking. For instance, the store hired security guards to
check the age of customers as they enter, Liquor Mart general
manager and City Councilman Jack Stoakes said.

The Rev. Phillip Porter, who sat on the commission that
investigated the athletic department, cheered Tharp's resignation
from the retailer's board but said he would have liked Tharp to
have made a clean break.

"Since we've seen what a devastating effect alcohol has on our
youth, I think he would have done the better thing to make the big
sacrifice," Bishop said.