Liaison says his advice was ignored

6/10/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

BOULDER, Colo. -- A liaison hired to examine the University
of Colorado athletics department because of a football recruiting
scandal says he recommended hiring a new athletic director, advice
that was ignored.

John DiBiaggio said he stopped short of recommending to
university President Elizabeth Hoffman and Boulder campus
Chancellor Richard Byyny that Dick Tharp be fired. But he did
suggest changing Tharp's duties.

"If you have a dean and there's a problem in the school, the
dean's held accountable," DiBiaggio told The Denver Post in
Thursday's editions. "You turn to the person that is accountable
for that particular operation, and you say, 'You're supposed to
have done your job.' And if they haven't ... you put somebody else
in charge of that particular function."

DiBiaggio did not immediately return a call Thursday. Tharp,
through a university spokesman, declined to comment.

Hoffman and Byyny last month announced broad changes in the
department and its oversight to address problems surrounding sex
and alcohol in the recruiting program. The only personnel decision
they made was to reinstate head football coach Gary Barnett, who
had been suspended in February.

DiBiaggio, a former president of three universities and a member
of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, was paid
about $21,000 per month for roughly three months of work this
spring. His report to Hoffman and Byyny has not been made public.

The university's reform plan contains many of DiBiaggio's policy
recommendations, but he said it was not as strong as he would have
liked in demanding accountability in athletics.

A change in personnel would have been the strongest policy
statement the university could have made, he said.

"I don't think Tharp's a bad person," he said. "It's a matter
of ... are they prepared to do the things that need to be done."

CU spokeswoman Michele Ames said Hoffman and Byyny believe the
decisions they made were in the best interests of the university
and its students, and stand behind their decision to keep Tharp.

Byyny told the Rocky Mountain News that DiBiaggio made no
specific personnel recommendations. He said DiBiaggio's chief
concern was whether the university was serious about making

DiBiaggio said he did not recommend that Tharp be fired.

"That's not the only alternative," he said. "The alternative
is to move people into other capacities. You must remember that
Dick Tharp is an attorney, and there are other capacities that he
could fill in the institution."

DiBiaggio said he was troubled by Tharp's partial ownership of
Liquor Mart, a large liquor store near campus. Last week, Tharp
announced he was resigning from the store's board of directors to
avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, but said he will
retain his ownership share.

Several members of an investigative panel formed by CU's regents
to investigate the recruiting problems have said they disagreed
with the decision to retain Tharp and Barnett. The commission,
however made no specific personnel recommendations in its final
report that accused Tharp of ignoring Byyny's requests to reform
the athletic department.