Barnard: Handling of Eustachy remains murky despite conversation with Joe Parker

Colin Barnard

In an effort to mitigate growing frustration between Colorado State athletics, media members and fans, athletic director Joe Parker held an hour-long press conference Friday afternoon.

Though Parker answered dozens of questions regarding the climate assessment of the men’s basketball program and Larry Eusatchy’s ultimate resignation, he also tiptoed around some of the more pressing issues. Given FERPA regulations and other legal requirements, some of that is understandable.

Ad

Athletic Director Joe Parker addresses the media during a private tour of the stadium.
Director of Athletics Joe Parker addresses the media during a private tour of the stadium. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

What’s not understandable is Parker and the athletic department’s handling of Eustachy’s reported behavior in early 2017, one year before the beginning of the climate assessment and three years after the first investigation into Eustachy’s behavior.

The situation began in 2016 when Parker had a conversation with a student-athlete who graduated the previous season. Parkers says that the former player spoke positively about Eustachy and his experience with the program.

Less than two months later, though, the Director of Athletics was approached by former team trainer Mac McDonald. Originally reported by the Denver Post, McDonald expressed concern that Eustachy’s behavior from 2013-14 persisted after President Tony Frank fired then athletic director Jack Graham.

“(McDonald) pointed to a couple incidents that, quite honestly, felt a little uncomfortable to me as it related to the program itself,” Parker said.

Seems pretty clear to me. A member of the men’s basketball program expressed concern that Eustachy’s behavior caused reason for worry, and Parker agreed that the actions described made him uncomfortable.

Justifiably, Parker hesitated to put his full trust in McDonald’s word due to his conversation with the former player, whom McDonald referenced as one of Eustachy’s victims.

Given the two conflicting conversations with two people inside the program, though, logic says that Parker would have followed up with the player regarding McDonald’s statements. An investigation should have been conducted then.

Instead, Parker did not check back with the former player, leaving the program under the same, gloomy leadership.

“In retrospect, maybe it should have (prompted immediate action),” Parker said. “I can very much understand, at this point, why you would wonder and have that question. At the time, it just felt as though the two things were hard to reconcile, and it didn’t prompt anything more than conversations within the staff.”

Something doesn’t add up there.

Ad

Parker’s message throughout the process has been that student-athlete welfare was the top priority. But when he directly received a warning about that welfare being put in danger, the necessary steps were not taken.

One year later, Parker received a complaint from a current player on the team, prompting an immediate assessment of the men’s basketball program. If Parker followed similar protocol during McDonald’s warning, there’s no reason to believe the same actions would not have been discovered that led to Eustachy’s resignation.

With the resignation, something as unclear and hushed as the investigation itself, Eustachy and CSU agreed to restructure the former coach’s contract, keeping him on paid administrative leave through Jun. 30 and designating him the title special assistant to the athletic director.

Parker indirectly revealed that the position is worthless Friday, saying that Eustachy “will be available if I need to call him,” and failing to detail any specifics of the position.

In addition to the remainder of this year’s contract, Eustachy will receive $750,000 over the next two years and be able to use fringe benefits of the position, including courtesy cars and country club access, through Jun. 30.

Given the former evidence and claims of ongoing abuse, Eustachy should not have been near this program in 2018.

Instead, don’t be surprised to see him cruising through Fort Collins in a courtesy car free of charge for the next four months.

After that, he’ll make do with $750,000 from the university’s pockets.

Collegian sports director Colin Barnard can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.