Dec 012011
Authors: Cris Tiller

A high-ranking member of CSU’s athletic department lost his job Thursday, but it wasn’t the person everyone expected.

Paul Kowalczyk’s termination seemingly came out of left field with an explanation equally as mysterious.

Nothing about this move appears to make any sense.

When asked whether Kowalczyk’s release was because he wasn’t doing enough to help the program CSU President Tony Frank responded, “I think that’s not an unfair characterization,” but didn’t name specifics on Kowalczyk’s performance.

Kowalczyk was hired in 2006 and outside of the football program, there was no evidence he was doing his job inadequately. After all, he did hire men’s basketball coach Tim Miles — a hire that’s working out — and women’s basketball coach Kristen Holt.

He also received a contract extension last year, which begs the question: Why fire him now?

Paying out the remaining 3 1/2 years plus paying the salary of a new athletic director doesn’t sound like a good business decision. Frank said the remainder of Kowalczyk’s salary would be paid by private funding, but where did that private funding come from?

Frank admitted to thinking about the course CSU athletics were headed a few months ago and began conversations with now new athletic director Jack Graham “in the last couple weeks.” He also said he did not talk about the job opportunity with anyone else.

Most job hirings, especially for a job of this magnitude, involving multiple candidates and a rigorous interview process. This hire had neither.

Frank made it sound more like a talk at the bar between two guys who thought in a similar way and decided to team up. Unfortunately for Kowalczyk, he wasn’t in on these plans.

The move was as much of a shock for people in and around the department for those outside.

CSU booster and graduate Len Carpenter was prepared for change, but not outside football.

“Having been around the program a long time you realize changes occur. It was just a real surprise,” Carpenter said. “I think everybody was just expecting so much to happen with changes in the football program. The change made at this level was not expected.”

The timing of this announcement also seems curious. It comes days before the final football game of the year, leaving little time for the new boss to decide the future of CSU football coach Steve Fairchild.

Frank denied the timing has anything to do with creating interest for the last game or distracting from the biggest question: Will Fairchild be here next year?

“(Fairchild) is nearing the end of his contract, so I think it’s inevitable, and I know Steve understands that that’s inevitable, for that microscope to be there,” Frank said.

Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at

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