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Looking back at Joe Parker’s tenure as CSU’s athletic director

Joe+Parker%2C+former+athletic+director+of+Colorado+State+University%2C+speaks+at+a+press+conference+Dec.+4%2C+2019.+The+subject+of+the+conference+was+head+football+coach+Mike+Bobo+taking+a+payout+for+the+remainder+of+his+contract.
Joe Parker, former athletic director of Colorado State University, speaks at a press conference Dec. 4, 2019. The subject of the conference was head football coach Mike Bobo taking a payout for the remainder of his contract.

Colorado State announced Monday Joe Parker would be stepping down from his duties as athletic director. First hired in 2015, Parker experienced everything from huge postseason success to season-ending controversy in his nearly nine-year tenure. Here’s a look back at some of the defining moments of his time at CSU.

Football, basketball success

Parker was an instrumental part of hiring two CSU football coaches: Steve Addazio and Jay Norvell. Addazio had a not-so-great tenure, going just 4-12 in his two years before being bought out of his contract for $3 million.

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Norvell was the second coaching hire for the CSU football program under Parker. Norvell is 8-16 two years into his career at CSU. Despite the lackluster start, Norvell ushered in the second-highest rated recruiting class in the Mountain West for the 2024 season and appears to have the program heading in an upward direction.

Arguably Parker’s most successful hire has been Niko Medved. Medved was brought back to CSU as the coach of the men’s basketball program in March 2018 after previously serving as an assistant coach for CSU 2007-13. Medved led the Rams to their first NCAA playoff berth in nine seasons in 2022. So far this season, CSU has been ranked in the AP Top 25 nine times, including the program’s highest-ever ranking at No. 13 in week five of the season. The Rams are 92-64 under Medved’s leadership.

Canvas naming rights deal

In 2018, Parker secured a $37.7 million naming rights deal with the Public Service Credit Union of Colorado for the newly constructed football stadium. After the company’s rebrand to Canvas Credit Union, the stadium was dubbed Canvas Stadium.

In the Coloradoan‘s report of the deal, Parker described the naming of the stadium as “probably the final milestone on our efforts to launch this stadium into service.”

Softball, soccer complex

Parker’s now-removed page on the CSU staff directory said the former athletic director was crucial in securing funding for the opening of the new soccer and softball facilities, which gained of a $5 million donation from the Bohemian Foundation, according to a CSU SOURCE article.

In the article, Parker emphasized the significance of this gift in the history of MW women’s athletics.

Investigation into CSU football for COVID-19 protocol violations, accusations of racism

In August 2020, then-university President Joyce McConnell hired an outside law firm to investigate the athletics department after football players and staff raised concerns that the athletic department was attempting to cover up COVID-19 health threats. According to the Coloradoan, football players and athletic department staff claimed coaches threatened players with reduced playing time if they quarantined and altered contact tracing reports to keep as many players playing as possible.

After the investigation into potential COVID-19 protocol violations was announced, the Coloradoan published a report that claimed over 20 current and former football players as well as athletic department staff came forward with accusations of racially insensitive activities within the program under former football coach Mike Bobo and continued under Addazio, which witnesses claim Parker turned a blind eye to. Addazio was dismissed from his position shortly after the end of the 2020 season.

Success of women’s athletics

One of the biggest things Parker did over his tenure as the CSU athletic director was oversee the success of women’s athletics.

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During his time as the athletic director, excluding his first year of 2015, CSU won 23 Mountain West championship titles as of the end of the 2023 fall season, with 15 from women’s sports. The most recent title came from CSU first-year cross country coach Kelly Hart, who brought CSU its first women’s MW championship win since 2007 in 2023.

During the same 2023 fall season, first-year coach Emily Kohan led the CSU volleyball team to a 19-12 record — second in the Mountain West — and to the MW championship, where they fell to Fresno State.

Keeley Hagen, who was hired in 2021 as the second-ever coach for CSU’s soccer program, led the team to the Mountain West championship last season, narrowly missing out on a title in a 1-0 loss to Utah State.

Damon Cook and Will Engle can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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