Colorado State offers Lubick associate AD job
The Colorado State University president and athletic director want coach Sonny Lubick to stick around -- just not on the football field that bears his name.
Lubick, 70, has been offered a job as an associate athletic director focusing on fundraising, the clearest signal yet that his coaching career with the Rams is over after 15 years.
Athletic director Paul Kowalczyk revealed the job offer Monday but stopped short of saying Lubick has been fired or has resigned. School president Larry Penley said the university and Lubick are in "retirement negotiations."
Lubick and Kowalczyk are planning to attend a news conference Tuesday in which a departure deal, including Lubick's response to Kowalczyk's offer, is expected to be announced.
"No one knows better than Sonny Lubick how critical it is that we dramatically improve donor and booster support for our team, and he is in a unique position to make that happen," Kowalczyk said. "As we move forward, it is my hope that Sonny will continue to play a prominent leadership role at the university, lending his energy and expertise to building a solid future for our football program and our student athletes."
The most successful coach in school history, Lubick has led the Rams to nine bowl games, won or shared six conference crowns and posted a 108-74 record in 15 seasons in Fort Collins. But the Rams went 3-9 this season and haven't had a winning record since 2003.
Kowalczyk said the school has offered to pay Lubick, who makes $530,000, his base coaching salary for the remaining two years on a contract extension he signed before last season. He said Lubick's assistants would receive compensation for the next three months or until they find other jobs.
Penley and Kowalczyk said in written statements Monday they wanted Lubick to remain with the school in some capacity. Kowalczyk said if Lubick accepts a job as senior associate athletic director, he would focus on fundraising and function as a "goodwill ambassador."
Penley said alumni, boosters and students have become increasingly frustrated with the program's performance and he instructed Kowalczyk to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement on Lubick's future.
"It is in no one's interest for Sonny to end his head coaching career feeling anything less than honored and valued for all he has done for our students and Rams athletics," Penley said. "If that is his perception, for whatever reason, then clearly Paul Kowalczyk has some work to do in continuing to outline a successful future for our football program and Sonny's continued involvement with CSU."
As recently as last Monday, Lubick said he wanted to continue coaching and was eager for the recruiting season, but he told his assistants before Friday's 36-28 win over Wyoming at Sonny Lubick Field that he was probably coaching his last game.
Prominent supporters and former players don't like seeing the affable Lubick forced out.
"I think it is very disrespectful and wrong to not let him leave on his own terms," said booster Rick Callan. "I would certainly think people would reconsider their pledges until they find out what actually happened and how things were handled."
Two Denver Broncos who played for Lubick came to his defense Monday.
Offensive tackle Erik Pears said bumping Lubick upstairs was the wrong move.
"I definitely think he's still got a lot to give and what he's done there, he deserves to go out on his own terms," Pears said. "And whenever that is, I feel it should be up to him."
So does running back Cecil Sapp: "He brought this program from the bottom to the top, so I think they shouldn't have forced him out."
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan concurred.
"If CSU loses Sonny Lubick, they'll be losing a great man as well as a great football coach," Shanahan said. "I've always had the utmost respect for him for the last 30 years. He's a man's man and I respect the heck out of him. Hopefully if he does leave, it's on his terms and nobody else's."
Word of Lubick's coaching career likely coming to an end inspired politicians to chime in on his contributions.
"Sonny Lubick has for the past 15 years been the face, heart and soul of Colorado State football," said Gov. Bill Ritter, a 1978 graduate of Colorado State. "His impact was not only felt on the football field in terms of wins and losses, but in the lives of the hundreds of young men he influenced. The lessons he taught helped many reach new heights on and off the field. Students, alumni and fans will miss him dearly."
U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., called Lubick "a living legend and a rarity among football coaches in his dedication to student athletes. We will soon know in what capacity he will continue to serve Colorado State University, its students and its alumni, but his accomplishments over the last decade and a half for the Rams will never be forgotten. He put the CSU Rams on the national football map and I look forward to him continuing his efforts to help CSU athletics thrive."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press