Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Colorado President To Decide If Mike MacIntyre Will Be Punished For Failing To Report Assistant's Alleged Abuse

Photo Credit: Bill Ross/AP Images

The Daily Camera reported Tuesday that Colorado’s board of regents elected to have president Bruce Benson determine the form of any punishment action taken against head football coach Mike MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George, and chancellor Phil DiStefano for actively choosing not to report allegations of domestic violence against former safeties coach and defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin.

Tumpkin’s girlfriend filed for a restraining order in December 2016 after allegedly suffering abuse at the coach’s hands for nearly two years of their three-year relationship. After reporting this to MacIntyre, who then told George who then told DiStefano, the woman received a phone call from a lawyer representing Tumpkin; at no time did the men contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. All three officials have since claimed they followed university policy in handling the report.


The first instance of abuse came in February 2015, according to the woman’s court filing, in which she claims Tumpkin threw her into a wall at a hotel room, then threw her on the bed to prevent her from leaving. The woman alleged Tumpkin routinely choked, bit, and shoved her; he also is accused of accosting other men she interacted with for the entirety of their relationship. Their relationship ended last November, after the coach reportedly sat on her, pulled her hair, and then dragged her out of his house the night Colorado lost to Washington State.

After ending her relationship with Tumpkin, the woman informed MacIntyre of the alleged abuse on Dec. 9. According to an interview the woman granted Sports Illustrated, she and MacIntyre spoke for 34 minutes after she messaged his wife on Facebook set up a meeting. She spoke with him again on Dec. 10 to inform him that she was purposefully not providing him evidence to help him avoid “an Art Briles situation.” At the conclusion of the second phone call, the woman told SI that MacIntyre said he had already informed George about her claims, and that the pair would determine what action they should take when he returned from a trip.


The AD subsequently informed DiStefano, but nobody from Colorado contacted the woman again. She told SI she expected George or MacIntyre to call her back and inform them of their plan of action; instead, she got a call on Dec. 13 from a lawyer the football team regularly uses to defend its players, who claimed to be representing Tumpkin. After he failed to dissuade her from reporting to the police, the lawyer asked her to give him a heads up before speaking with police; when she declined his offer and said she’d call MacIntyre instead, he told her the coach would no longer be taking her calls to avoid being called as a witness.

Meanwhile, despite communicating messages of assurance to the victim, MacIntyre directly accelerated Tumpkin’s career progress less than a week later. On Dec. 14, Colorado defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt left the program to take the same position at Oregon. MacIntyre, who was named 2016 coach of the year by both the Pac-12 and the Associated Press, decided to make Tumpkin his interim defensive coordinator. Tumpkin was in the booth calling plays in the team’s Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma State.


Tumpkin’s alleged victim called MacIntyre on Dec. 15 to inform him that she was going to police to file for her restraining order, per the Daily Camera; Tumpkin was promoted on Dec. 16. The temporary restraining order was signed by a judge on Dec. 20.

The university suspended Tumpkin without pay after a Daily Camera reporter reached out to them for comment on the order on Jan. 6. Tumpkin submitted his letter of resignation at the university’s urging on Jan. 27 and was arrested on Feb. 1, being charged with five felony counts of second-degree assault.


When faced with the fact that high-ranking university officials took no internal action to report the matter to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, all three Colorado officials did their best high-wire act to show that although they failed to intervene in any sort of reasonable manner, they acted according to university policy and were thus protected from future punishment.

DiStefano insisted in an open letter on the school website that the first time Colorado officials saw the restraining order was on Jan. 6, and that based on his interpretation of university policy, he didn’t have to report anything he’d previously heard. George said the administration was not attempting to cover up for Tumpkin, and that he would “take responsibility for not being aware that a temporary restraining order had been filed prior to the day we received a copy, Jan. 6.” MacIntyre said that he promoted Tumpkin because “at the time of the decision, there was no police report or legal complaint.” He added that the promotion was approved by his superiors.


Similar to Baylor’s decision to keep the Pepper Hamilton report from the public, an external investigation completed last Friday was presented to Colorado regents, who decided to withhold the document from the public due to “legal and personnel matters,” per the Camera. In a statement, the regents announced that a separate public report will be released at some point in the future. Benson will also be responsible for determining whether changes to university policies are required.

MacIntyre, a highly touted coach fresh off his best season in four years at Colorado, is currently up for a contract extension, but the talks have been tabled until June 15 pending the completion of Benson’s review of the investigation.

Share This Story

About the author