Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about a few different issues concerning the athletic department today after the groundbreaking ceremony for the new basketball/volleyball practice facility.
You will be reading the chancellor’s comments about those issues in the coming days either here on the blog or in stories on Buffzone and in the Daily Camera.
The football program headed by coach Dan Hawkins was one of the issues DiStefano and I discussed. The school considered the idea of firing Hawkins last year after going 3-8 to start the season, but it opted to retain Hawkins and announced that decision prior to the final game of the season against Nebraska. The Buffs lost to finish 3-9.
DiStefano has put the decision and last season in the past and is now looking toward the 2010 season with hope for better times ahead.
“I think coach Hawkins has players with experience now,” DiStefano said. “Toney Clemons is on the team now. He sat out a year. He’s ready to play. I think we have the right people on offense. The offensive line has gained that year of experience. So my expectation is that coach Hawkins is going to continue to do the things that he does off the field, which I think he does so well, in getting student-athletes to graduate.
“But certainly on the field now he has the experienced team. It’s a tough schedule as always in the Big 12, but I’m going to be looking for, and I think everyone is, improvement on the field next year.”
The school would have had to pay Hawkins more than $3 million if it had decided to fire him after last season. DiStefano will be announcing a $10 million budget cut on campus next week and says the athletic department, like all sectors of the school, will have to absorb some of the cut.
Those cuts are further evidence the school wasn’t in position to be paying a coach millions not to coach while also paying a new coach to take his place. I asked the chancellor if the Buffs have another subpar season next fall, whether it’s possible the school could once again decide it’s too expensive to fire Hawkins, who would be owed about $2 million at that point.
“I think you always have to look at the economics and look at budget issues, but it’s one piece of a total picture,” DiStefano said. “So I believe coach Hawkins will have two more years on his contract, and I’m not looking to make a change, but I think this is a year for him as a coach — and he has great experience. He has great records wherever he’s been — to really let him do what he needs to do to win. I think people are expecting wins next year. I certainly am.”