Coach Hawkins' Buyout Likely To Cost CU Plenty

Some Lawmakers Critical Of Coaching Contracts That Don't Give State More Flexibility

The University of Colorado's decision to fire head football coach Dan Hawkins is going to cost CU a lot of money.

Hawkins' contract runs through 2013, so the school could have to dish out $2 million under the terms of his deal.

"We will not use any state resources, any general fund resources, no taxpayer resources -- that will be all earned revenues associated with the inter-collegiate athletic enterprise," said CU athletic director Mike Bohn.

But state Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said such buyouts indirectly cost taxpayers in the form of higher tuition, among other things. She said tuition at CU is already increasing by 9 percent.

And Carroll said poorly written coaching contracts open the state up to too much exposure.

"Whether it's the state's general fund, the pockets of students paying tuition or donations, I don't think it sits well with the public," she said. "And I think it's our job to ask the tough questions, and frankly ask for some better contracting on the front end so we don't find ourselves exposed to these kind of pay outs."

The CU athletic department remains in debt, partially because of the last coaching change when Bohn fired Gary Barnett in 2005.

CU was heavily criticized for Barnett's buyout, which was about $4 million.

And Bohn admits it's not going to be any easier this time. "Generally, donors and sponsors and alumni respond to winning," said Bohn.

"I think it's just a lot of money, regardless of the source. And given that it's a public institution, we need to be fully transparent, we need to be frugal, we need to watch every dollar. I think it's a hard case to make that $3 million in this climate isn't a lot of money that frankly could be better spent," said Carroll.

Hawkins is the lowest paid head coach in the Big 12, with the exception of Iowa State's head coach.

The buyout process now goes to mediation where CU hopes to limit the buyout further.

In addition to the buyout, CU now has to find the funding to pay a new head coach as well.

Bohn said that since news broke of CU's decision to fire Hawkins, 800 tickets to this weekend's game against Iowa State have already sold. That indicates there's renewed enthusiasm for the program, which could contribute to a spike in donations to the athletic department.

Bohn said until donors and alumni start contributing more, CU will have a tough time competing with coaching contracts in its new conference, the PAC 12. And he said CU needs to commit more money to the salaries of assistant coaches as well.