Mar 252009
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

Long-time CSU figurehead and beloved community icon Sonny Lubick, the former head coach for the Rams football team, was hired by the College of Business as a director of community outreach, university officials announced Wednesday.

Interim Provost Rick Miranda read a statement from interim CSU President Tony Frank at a press conference lauding Lubick, who led the football team for 15 years, as an effective leader in bringing visibility to the university.

“Sonny Lubick is greatly loved at CSU and in the community,” Miranda said, reading the statement. “. We believe this gives him a chance to do what he does best: work and inspire students.”

During the conference, Lubick said he is confident in his ability to bring support to CSU.

“I feel I can be a great asset to students and those are the ones that the school is built for,” he said.

Lubick was fired in November 2007 when, after his 15-year tenure once rich in wins began to slip, the football team started setting records for losses in the Mountain West Conference.

The Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk, who asked Lubick to step down with two years still left on his contract, drew fire from the media in the aftermath of Lubick’s departure and about a dozen donors withdrew their support.

At the time, the remaining salary left on his contract totaled nearly $1 million.

When asked whether he would have come back under former President Larry Penley’s tenure, Lubick said there were no hard feelings on his end of the deal when he was fired and that now is just the right time to return.

Lubick declined a fundraising position the university offered him just after he was fired.

Lubick’s salary with the College of Business will be paid by the Fort Collins Bohemian Foundation –/a deal that has been in the works since Lubick left CSU 16 months ago, Bohemian Foundation officials confirmed Wednesday.

The amount he will be paid is still being worked out. Brad Bohlander, CSU’s chief spokesperson, said a full-time position like Lubick’s is worth $125,000, but Lubick is only expected to work 10 to 20 hours a week.

Kowalczyk said Wednesday that the Athletics Department was rejoicing in Lubick’s return to the university.

“We think this is tremendous,” he said. “As I’ve said before, Sonny should continue to be affiliated with the university, and we welcome him with open arms. It’s a positive for the university and the community.”

Gov. Bill Ritter extended his support for Lubuck’s position Wednesday.

“Governor Ritter has been a long-time fan and supporter of Sonny Lubick,” said Ritter’s head spokesperson Evan Dreyer in a phone message to the Collegian. “This is fantastic. It’s wonderful he’s coming back.”

Current head coach Steve Fairchild echoed Ritter’s comments.

“It’s so great, isn’t it? He’s such a great person and a great coach, and he belonged back in the university and I’m happy for him,” Fairchild said. “I had a chance to see him a few weeks back and he looks good, we had a chance to catch up. It’s just such good news for him and good news for Colorado State.”

Since Lubick’s departure, he opened a steakhouse in downtown Fort Collins, which, he said, has seen a lot of support and will remain open. But he joked: “I saw on ABC that you could only have a third of a pound of meat. If that gets out, the steakhouse is going down.”

Lubick told reporters at the press conference that he was excited to return, but that he never felt that he was gone.

“Really, I haven’t left,” he said. “I’m still just up the street here.”

Football beat reporter Matt Stephens contributed to this report.

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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