Phillip P. DiStefano, chancellor of the University of Colorado-Boulder (UCB), was suspended for 10 days without pay after failing to report to authorities an allegation that an assistant football coach had committed domestic violence. Rick George, the director of athletics, and Mike MacIntyre, the head football coach, were both fined $100,000 for failing to report the allegations.
Phillip P. DiStefano has served as chancellor at UCB since April 1, 2009. When DiStefano first learned from MacIntyre of the allegations against assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, he reportedly did not believe there was sufficient evidence to warrant informing the relevant authorities, the Daily Camera reports. He later defended his actions, claiming that based on his reading of the university’s policy, he was not required to disclose the allegations. He said he had read the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance’s “Processes and Procedures” document, and determined that it was best to “err on the side of caution,” reports The Denver Post. However, on February 16, 2017, he said that employees should “err on the side of reporting” in the future. DiStefano was suspended for 10 days for his role in the incident.
Joe Tumpkin previously served as the safeties coach for UCB’s football team. On December 9, 2016, his ex-girlfriend called the head football coach, Mike MacIntyre, and alleged that Tumpkin had physically abused her. Tumpkin was promoted to defensive coordinator on December 16, but four days later, a judge granted his ex-girlfriend a temporary restraining order against him, the Camera reports. Tumpkin then coached in a December 29 bowl game. On January 6, 2017, George and MacIntyre learned of the restraining order and suspended Tumpkin. A day later, the local police department opened a criminal investigation into the allegations, reports the Post. Tumpkin was suspended indefinitely and then resigned at the request of the university on January 27, 2017.
Mike MacIntyre is the head football coach at UCB. He says he received a phone call from the victim on December 9, and informed George immediately afterwards. George reached out to DiStefano, and they deemed that official action was not necessary. MacIntyre made the decision to promote Tumpkin to defensive coordinator for the bowl game in December, a decision that George and DiStefano both approved. When asked why he still decided to promote Tumpkin, MacIntyre said that he was not aware of any official legal action or complaint, and that the decision was approved by his superior. MacIntyre and George were both fined $100,000 for their failure to report the allegations to law enforcement.
Rick George is the director of athletics at UCB. He approved of the decision to promote Tumpkin for the bowl game and was fined $100,000. Both he and MacIntyre paid the fine to charities that work against domestic violence.
Bruce Benson is the president of UCB. He, along with the Board of Regents, made the decision to suspend DiStefano and fine MacIntyre and George.
Pamela Fine is Joe Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend. She alleged that Tumpkin began abusing her in early 2015, and that the last instance of abuse took place in November 2016, after which she left Tumpkin permanently. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, reports Deadspin. In September 2017, Fine filed a lawsuit against UC Boulder for failing to report the abuse allegations.
Former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, who conducted an investigation on behalf of law firm WilmerHale, identified three major breakdowns in DiStefano’s decision-making: failure to report domestic violence allegations, failure to report to law enforcement officials, and mishandling of Tumpkin’s role as a coach, reports the Post. However, Salazar said that there was no “bad intent” or cover-up, but instead a series of mistakes made by the individuals involved.
President Benson said in a statement that the university “did not handle this matter as well as [it] should have.” He acknowledged that some would find his punishments too harsh and others would find them too lenient.
“I kick myself every day,” DiStefano said about his decision not to report the incident, reports the Camera. He added that “all we had is an allegation from a lady that we don’t know very well who had one or two phone calls with [MacIntyre] — that was it — I wish we knew then all the information.”
The Board of Regents issued a statement directing Benson to outline necessary changes to university policy in order to avoid similar incidents from occurring in the future.
DiStefano suspended, George and MacIntyre Fined
Chancellor DiStefano was suspended for 10 days without pay, and Rick George and Mike MacIntyre were each fined $100,000 for their role in the incident.
Tumpkin resigned and is facing felony charges
Joe Tumpkin faces five felony counts of second-degree assault and three misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault. His ex-girlfriend accused him of biting and choking her on occasion, and threatening to kill other men in whom she had expressed interest. On June 21, 2017, the Camera reported that proceedings in Tumpkin’s case could be delayed for months due to arguments between his defense attorneys and the prosecution over how much access the defense team should have to Fine’s cell phone records.
Fine files lawsuit against UC Boulder
Deadspin reported on September 6 that Fine is suing UC Boulder for failing to report her abuse allegations to the police. The suit is ongoing.
Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18
November 14, 2017