CSU's new AD: We are going to win

Jack Graham, CSU's 17th Director of Athletics

Jack Graham, CSU's 17th Director of Athletics

Dec. 1, 2011

Dr. Tony Frank, President

Opening comments: “Probably in a couple of weeks we will have an announcement about our new Dean of Vet Med, and I assume that you’ll all be back?

“Being the president of the university has aspects that are among the best jobs in the world. There are also things that are among the most difficult that I’ve had to do, and one of those is letting good people go from their positions.

“I met with Paul Kowalczyk yesterday and told him that I was making a change in the athletic director position. Paul is a man of immense integrity who has worked very hard on behalf of Colorado State University. I consider Paul Kowalczyk a friend, but as I’ve watched where Ram athletics are going, I have become concerned about the signal that we are sending to people who view Colorado State University, and form opinions about our university, through the lens of athletics.

“Colorado State is proud of our reputation as a university. We’ve worked hard and earned that reputation. We didn’t become one of the most productive research universities in the country by saying that we had too small a faculty. We didn’t narrow our race-based graduation gaps to one of the lowest in the country, or beat our predicted graduation rates by saying that our pockets weren’t as deep as many other institutions. We haven’t come through the last three years with, I think, an improved reputation, three years of record enrollment, three years of record research funding, and looking to complete the university’s first campaign ahead of schedule and over budget, by saying that it would be difficult to do those things. We accomplished all of those things by setting high standards, by working hard, and by holding ourselves accountable. And, I think those are the same things that I expect from Ram athletics.

“I believe that we can continue to run one of the cleanest athletic programs in the country. I believe that we can continue to graduate our student-athletes at rates that exceed our general population. And, I believe that we can expect to win.

“In looking for the person to help lead Ram athletics to that next level, I was certainly interested in finding someone who had managed complex organizations and finances, built management teams, and identified leadership talent. I was also interested in finding someone who really treasured and valued CSU, and was connected to our ethics and values as an institution. And I think that I found that person in Jack Graham.

“Jack was a CSU student, played football – quarterback – for the Rams in the 1970s. He went on to an extraordinarily successful career in business, where he accomplished all of those things, built organizational structures, identified leadership teams, managed successful organizations, set up cultures that settled for nothing less than excellence.

“I think that in Jack we find someone with those traits, but also someone with big vision for what Ram athletics can do for Colorado State University. We find someone who is relentlessly committed to excellence and someone who shares my passion for accountability, and not settling for anything less in athletics, as we have not settled for anything less than excellence in the university as a whole.

“I’m excited about where Ram Athletics is going. I think that it is a big part of a successful university, and I think that Jack Graham, our new athletic director, is going to be a critically important piece to taking us there.”

Director of Athletics Jack Graham

Opening comments: “Well, the first thing I’d like to say is how sincerely honored that I am to have the opportunity,  and I do view this as an incredibly large opportunity that will have lots of challenges associated with it. But I really am very honored to have the opportunity to serve as CSU’s athletic director, and I’m very excited to get to work.

“I think there are a couple of things that I’d like to touch base with you about. First, I’d like to talk about why it is that I decided to take this job. First and foremost, I would say that I was driven by the appreciation that I have, and the respect that I have for CSU, overall, and its academic excellence. This is a great institution. In my opinion it’s one of the best in the country, and in my opinion it’s a well-kept secret. There aren’t many people outside of the immediate CSU community that know how great our university is.

“From my perspective, I personally got a great education here. When I left CSU in 1975, I was well-equipped to go into the work force. I got a great education. My youngest daughter is a senior at CSU studying agricultural economics and she talks constantly about the experience that she’s having, how accessible her professors are, and how she feels as if she is being treated as a customer, and that people really care about her as a student. My youngest brother is a vet in California. He went to UC-Davis, which is an excellent veterinary school, but he collaborates constantly with Colorado State University. He’s an infectious-disease specialist, so he’s talking to CSU all the time because it’s his view that the CSU vet school is the best one in the country. So, it is very personal to me. I have personal experiences that have substantiated just how great an institution Colorado State University is.

“That said, I do believe that our athletic programs can contribute, if not lead, an effort to change the outside world’s knowledge and view of our university. So, I think that athletics plays a very, very important role at CSU.

“Tony and I spent an extensive amount of time talking to each other about the purpose of athletics at CSU. And in general, what’s the purpose of athletics in any great university, because it’s a big topic, it’s a big business. So why is it that athletics is so important, and should be so important? I needed to know where Tony stands on that question and, frankly, I needed to know where I stand myself on that question because I wanted to make sure that if I was going to come back and take on this assignment that it had meaning. And I came to the conclusion – and Tony and I are 100 percent aligned on this – that it does have meaning.

“We can do two things with athletics at CSU. No. 1, we can send a signal, the signal about our university. Not just our athletics programs, but the university at large; about the quality of our leadership, about the quality of our standards – how high our standards are – and our ability to deliver results. And if we’re performing well at CSU athletically, we send a signal of excellence. The message that’s delivered to people who see us perform athletically is that we do have great leadership, we do have high standards and that we can deliver results. And we’re determined that the athletic program at CSU is going to project that signal and that image to the rest of the world.

“It creates what I call the virtuous cycle. If, in fact, we are successful in athletics, the rest of the world sees that we’ve got talent, not just athletic talent, but it brings more talent to our university. It brings more money and capital to our university, and all of that creates more opportunities for our university. And, with more opportunities, it means we need to go out and get more money and more talent, and that’s the virtuous cycle that gets created. So, athletics can play a meaningful role in helping to contribute to the growth and success of Colorado State University at large.

“The second reason that I think athletics is important to CSU is that it can be a very, very strong unifying force for our community. If you are sitting and watching an athletic event and someone is competing and representing an institution that you’re affiliated with, whether it be a city, the Denver Broncos, or it’s your university or your high school that’s competing, and something good is happening on the field or on the court, and excellence is being demonstrated, we cheer it and we applaud it. We want to be aligned with it. It is a magnet for unifying communities. Athletic excellence can bring together our community, our student community here in Fort Collins, the Fort Collins community, the CSU Rams community in Denver, and the broader Ram nation around the country. So I think those things are important.

“I’d like to talk for just a second about what our objectives are. It’s a little early for me to be really specific in this regard, but Tony and I have talked at length about what CSU athletics should accomplish. We know what the purpose is, we want to send a strong signal, and we want to unify our community through athletics and through our traditions. So what are our specific objectives to accomplishing those things? Without question, there are three things that are at the top of our list, and these will evolve over time. I’ve got about four or five hours into the job at this point, so it will continue to mature as we go forward. But there are three things that are abundantly clear.

“No. 1, this will be a program of squeaky-clean integrity. We are one of 17 institutions, universities, nationwide that has never had a major violation in the NCAA. That record is going to be upheld. It’s not something that we take for granted. We’ve accomplished that. We’re not going to take it for granted. We’ll talk about it consistently and constantly, and we’re going to do both (win with integrity). We’re going to have a squeaky-clean institution, we’re going to adhere to all the rules, in fact and in spirit, and we’re going to win. So that’s No. 1. We will be a program of integrity. All of our athletic programs will be programs of integrity.

“No. 2 is what I call academic excellence. We’ve got a great track record with our student-athletes. We graduate more student-athletes than the general population at CSU, and that can be maintained. And there are other things that we can do to continue to advance academic excellence within the student-athletic community at CSU. So we are fully committed to that as well.

“And the third thing is we’re going to win. We are going to win. We have some initial standards that we are going to hold ourselves to, in the beginning, about winning a certain minimum percentage of our games, and our matches. We are going to deliver on those results. The culture within CSU athletics, going forward, will be a culture of accountability and a culture of results. We are here to deliver results. The results aren’t just winning, but winning is absolutely one of the results that we have to deliver. The integrity and academic excellence goes along with that as well, but we are going to win. Ultimately, I want to see our football program be a consistently top-25 ranked football team in the country. I want to see us playing in bowl games every year. I want our basketball programs to be consistently competing for conference titles and championships; I want us in NCAA tournaments. And all of the other athletic programs at CSU should be competing for conference titles and postseason play. So we have high standards and expectations with regard to winning, with regard to integrity, and with regard to academic excellence.

“I just want to make clear what my expectation of my job is as the athletic director at CSU. I don’t get to draw Xs and Os. I don’t get to go out on the field and compete. Nobody on the administrative staff of the athletic department gets to do those things. We exist to enable the rest of the CSU athletic department to succeed, the coaches and student-athletes. We are here to enable success. It’s our job to deliver as much money as we can possibly deliver to the athletic programs for budget purposes so that they can have the resources that they need to succeed and compete in today’s intercollegiate world. It’s a difficult world to compete in today, as you all know. So that’s No. 1; we need to deliver money. And, No. 2, we need to deliver facilities. So those are the primary responsibilities that we as an administrative staff of the athletic department have.

“It is not my expectation that public funding is going to solve or meet our needs. We live in a tough political and a tough economic environment right now. We all know what’s going on in the United States and in Colorado right now. To just expect the state of Colorado to start contributing more funds to the athletic department is probably a poor assumption and not one that we’re making. We’ll get every penny and nickel of public funding that we’re entitled to, or we can get our hands on. But from a practical perspective, we are going to become a self-reliant athletic department that will be looking to our community, to our alumni, to our supporters and to our donors to help us make CSU athletics successful. Everyone that is part of the Ram nation can expect a phone call from me at some point in time because I’m going to ask for help, both in terms of money as well as time, resources and ideas. There are lots of things that can be done to help us make this program bigger and better, and that is absolutely my intention.”

Graham on the future of Head Coach Steve Fairchild and his staff: “It’s premature, obviously, for me to answer that question. Coach Fairchild and I are going to be spending a lot of time with each other. Tomorrow, he and I are going to drive up to the Wyoming border to accept the football from the University of Wyoming cadets, ROTC, who are running the ball from Laramie to the Colorado-Wyoming border. The CSU cadets and our ROTC are going to get the ball and carry it to Fort Collins. I think it’s a fantastic tradition. Steve and I are going to spend time together, driving there and driving back, just beginning the conversation about where the football program is, and is Steve the right fit for the program. I’m not in any position right now to answer that question.”

Graham on early thoughts about where the football program needs to be: “I’m a fan. So I absolutely have my opinion and follow CSU football religiously. I’m not happy with where the CSU football program is today. We’re 3-8 right now and my hope is that we’ll be 4-8 Saturday, but that’s not an acceptable result and that’s why we need change and need to figure out what we need to do to get us to where I expect our football program to be.”

Graham on whether the upcoming drive with Fairchild is like a job interview: “I think that’s a fair characterization.”

Frank on why now, and if he was hearing “no” too much: “I don’t know that I’d phrase it that I was hearing ‘no’ too much. I think there have been an awful lot of things as we all know going on around college athletics over the past year that I hope caused all of us to do a reality check and say, ‘What do these programs mean to us’? There are tremendous amounts of money being thrown around the system. We’ve had upheaval of conferences, loss of traditional rivalries, all sorts of challenges to things that are an important part of the fiber, the backbone of intercollegiate athletics, at least in my opinion; scandals across the country that have done the exact opposite of what it think athletics ought to do for a university. They’ve actually brought down or tarnished the university’s reputation, rather than building them up in the public eye. I think as I looked at all of those things, and thought about our own athletic programs and the opportunities we have and the challenges we have to face, I reached the conclusion that this is important, and it’s important to act on it now rather than later.”

Frank on how long he’s considered making a change at AD, and when the process started: “I wouldn’t say that I was thinking of making a change when I began thinking about all of these things. I would say probably over the last couple of months I began to crystallize my thinking about the importance of where we needed Ram athletics to be.”

Frank on when he started talking to Graham: “We’ve known each other for a while and have had some conversations on some different topics, but we probably started talking about this opportunity in the last couple of weeks.”

Frank on whether he talked about the opportunity with anyone else: “I did not.”

Frank on whether he definitely knew if he wanted a change before talking to Graham: “About the time that I had started talking to Jack, I had gelled in my thinking that I needed to make a change and had started to think about how to go down that route.”

Frank on whether Kowalczyk’s release had anything to do with anything related to improprieties or immoral behaviors on Kowalczyk’s part: “Absolutely not. That had no impact whatsoever. Paul Kowalczyk is a man of immense integrity. He has led our program with great distinction in that regard.”

Frank on reasons for Kowalczyk’s release and if he wasn’t quite doing “enough”: “I think that’s not an unfair characterization. I want to see us take a step forward. These things never fall to one person. One person doesn’t make an athletic department. One person doesn’t make a university. But there is an important role of tone at the top. If Colorado State University isn’t moving forward in a way the Board of Governors believes it ought to, I expect they’ll have a conversation with me about the tone at the top of the institution.”

Frank on whether he’d like to see CSU in a different conference: “There are a series of things that would benefit Colorado State University. That would be some stability that puts the focus back on our student-athletes and back on competitions and their success in the classroom. I think stability around the revenue picture and scheduling and planning are beneficial. From my perspective, I am a big fan of long-standing rivalries. I attended two Big Ten universities, I love those sorts of things, and I hate to see those types of things being torn apart.”

Frank on Graham’s contract details: “The contract is a public document. It’s essentially an identical contract to what Paul’s was. It’s a five-year duration, $260,000 annual compensation.”

Frank on Kowalczyk’s contract: “Paul’s contract, there are another three-and-a-half years on that contract. We will be honoring it. We will be buying that out with private funds. No state funds, tuition, or student fees will be used.”

Frank on similarities between Graham and former AD Mark Driscoll, Graham’s CSU roommate and teammate in 1973-74: “There are commonalities in categorizing people but the big differences are in individuals. What I was looking for when I went down this path was someone who had success in leading complex organizations, building leadership teams, managing large financial pieces, raising large amounts of capital, identifying leadership talent, someone who was connected to the university. Additionally, someone who had that big vision, that passion, that relentless desire to excel, and those things led me to Jack. There are certainly commonalities that led my predecessor to Mark Driscoll.”

Frank on what the situation would be today if Graham had declined the offer: “I don’t know that I can answer that question. I never thought down that pathway.”

Frank on whether this came as a surprise to Kowalczyk: “I think you’d probably need to ask Paul that question.”

Graham on the extent of the conversations he had with Frank leading up to the hiring: “It was an intense process between the two of us. It wasn’t an extended period of time. We didn’t take weeks or months to do it because of the timeline. Tony wanted to move quickly. He and I spent probably about 10 days in a real focused exchange of dialogues with one another. He and I wrote to each other extensively; philosophically, about the importance of athletics, and we wrote to ourselves. He needed to resolve it for himself, convince himself that athletics is important to this university and that we should continue to invest in it. I needed to be convinced that I wanted to invest a good portion of my life going forward in building CSU athletics. He and I both came down to, this is very important to the university and so we want to make it happen.”

Graham on why he thinks he can be successful in fundraising: “Well that’s a good question, and I’m not sure this early in the game I can give you specific answers to your question. I can tell you that throughout my business career I’ve been challenged at raising massive amounts of capital for my own companies as well as companies that I’ve worked for and with. And I was told frequently, ‘It can’t be done.’ And I love those kinds of challenges. I don’t like challenges that are completely unrealistic and so far-fetched that they can’t be delivered. But I can tell you, personally, with the profile that I have at Colorado State University, I’m a graduate, I played professional football, I was drafted by the (Miami) Dolphins, played football here, had a great business career; I never once was called. I reached out to the university. That’s fundamentally a problem, and so that’s the kind of thing that we’re going to address. That’s changed. Paul (Kowalczyk) helped to change that dynamic and there’s other people inside the department that have changed that but I can tell you there’s lots of additional progress to be made in and around on that topic.”

Graham on his short-term vision: “Well I think we can change the culture. I really can’t tell you what the culture of the CSU athletic department is because I haven’t lived it. All I can tell you is the culture I want. That culture may exist or it may not exist in its entirety, or not at all. What I want is a culture of accountability and a culture that’s driven to deliver results. We are all paid to come to work and deliver results. We didn’t come to ask us to sit in a chair. They asked us to come to work to deliver results. And we know what those results have to be: A program of high integrity, academic excellence, and wins. That is the mantra that will exist within the athletic department.”

Graham on his timeline to establish that culture: “I don’t know. It’s not an eight-hour-a-day job. It’s seven days a week and as many hours as I can fit into a day. Not to do drive-bys and meet on the fly, but to really sit down with each of the coaches and people inside my staff and really understand what they do and why they do it. How can we do what we do better? How can we do 10 percent more for 5 percent less, those kinds of questions. And, what does each athletic program inside of CSU need to be more successful. We’ve got some programs that are really on the rise and doing well. Obviously our women’s volleyball team is exceptional. (Tom) Hilbert is doing a great job. Our basketball team, what a great night last night was (a win over CU). In all sincerity, our basketball team is on the rise. Our golf team, our men’s golf team is performing well. So there are some good things happening inside CSU athletics. Just carry that theme across every single program. And whether you like it or not, football is not the CSU athletic department, but it certainly is the program that people define success by, for the most part, and we have to get our football program right.”

On whether he expects to make the key decision regarding the football staff in the next week: “I’ll make the decision within a timeline that’s appropriate, whether it takes a week or six months, I’m not going to rush the decision, and make a decision that’s not appropriate for the university.”

On whether it’s fair to say he could wait six months to make that decision: “Not practical.”

On Colorado State being a great secret: “I don’t really think that the fact that the nation doesn’t know about the quality that exists at Colorado State University is something that I need to change. I’m not going to say that’s an objective, if we want to change the perception people have, of the knowledge or lack of knowledge people have, about the academic and research excellence that exists at Colorado State. That’s a byproduct that will come as the result of a successful athletic program. And so we’ll focus on delivering successful athletics and meeting the objectives that we set for ourselves. And if we do that, I can guarantee you people will be talking about Colorado State University across the spectrum. We’ll no longer be a secret. It’s not a secret; it’s just not an institution people talk about a lot. When I got married to my wife, my wife said, ‘Colorado State? Where’s that?’ She’s from Arkansas, so you can excuse that to a degree.”

Frank on how long they’ve known each other and when he started thinking about this move: “I think Jack and I met, a couple of years ago now? As I said before, I had reached a point in my thinking in which I knew I wanted to make a change, and started to develop the formula or algorithm I was going to use to try to think about who would be a good person to move into that role. As often happens in things like this, a degree of serendipity intervened. Jack had scheduled a meeting to come and talk with me about a different topic. And as he was talking, I had just finished up making some notes for myself about where I wanted to go and as he was talking I was thinking, ‘There are some commonalities here.’ “

Graham on whether he was surprised: “I was. I was very surprised. As Tony said, I went to talk to Tony about a specific topic. I was asked to give more money to the university and I was having a difficult time getting to ‘yes’ because I felt that we were playing around the edges and the margins, as opposed to attacking the core issues that exist inside our athletic department. So I was talking to Tony about that specific topic and saying, ‘Let’s make some real changes here.’ I had a specific idea in mind, and so that’s what triggered our conversation. When he came back to me a week later and said, ‘Would you consider being our athletic director?’, I was surprised.”

Graham on his specific idea: “I’m going to hold that, because I really don’t want to talk about that right now. I do have his full backing to the idea, but I think that’s not the focus right now. More to come later on that subject. It’s a big one.”

Graham on his family and personal life: “I wish it was a secret where I live. I live in Boulder. I apologize for that. When I moved to Colorado, I moved back to Colorado 15 years ago to form the company I just sold. And I selected Boulder for a variety of reasons, none of which turned out to be very good. I really should’ve gone to Fort Collins. I do love Fort Collins; it’s a great community. Boulder’s a wonderful community as well; it truly is. My wife and I live west of Boulder, about 10 miles up in the mountains. We have horses. We have a country life and we love our country life. I’ve got three children, a son that lives in Illinois who is a firefighter and he’s also a farrier; he shoes horses. I’ve got a daughter who just graduated from nursing school, from the University of Wyoming; she had a great education there. My youngest daughter as I said is a senior here at Colorado State studying agricultural economics.”

Graham on what he’s been doing since he sold his business: “Trying to figure out what retirement would look like. It’s not bad, getting up every morning and being able to spend time with my wife and my dog and horses, playing golf. I told Tony earlier that I really tackled golf. I was a good golfer when I was a kid, and I decided to take golf seriously starting early in the summer. I played golf five or six times a week this summer. My handicap went up. What’s wrong with that picture? That’s why I’m back at work; I couldn’t make that work.”

Graham on his age: “I’m 59.”

Graham on his relationship with Steve Fairchild: “Steve and I don’t know each other well. He and I have shaken hands with each other a few times. I’ve gone to a handful of Steve’s roundtable, white-board sessions and I think Steve’s technical knowledge of the game of football is fantastic. I enjoyed listening to him talk, but I don’t have a personal relationship with Steve. So it’s an opportunity for me to get to know Steve, and for Steve to get to know me. There’s a learning curve each of us have to step onto.”

Graham on his wife’s reaction: “It was mixed. She’s 100 percent supportive. She knows this is a great job for me. I am so passionate about college athletics. I absolutely love athletics across the spectrum. I’d just assume sit and watch a bunch of 10-year-old Little Leaguers play baseball. I get as much pleasure out of that as anything. I just love sport. I’m pretty well versed in it as well, and having the business acumen that I’ve got, she knew this was a job that I would love doing and she thought might be pretty good at it. So, she’s 100 percent supportive and she will back me 100 percent. But at the same time, we are giving up a lot. I do actually like my wife, and giving up being home every day, instead of traveling 200 days of year – which is what my business life required of me – being with my dog every day, those are all really wonderful things and I enjoyed that. It’s the first time in 35 years I’ve had that experience so that’s what I’m giving up, but at the same time I’m really excited about the challenge and the opportunity it presents. You asked me how old I am, 59; I’m not ready to check out. At 59, I feel like I have the energy of a 25-year-old, so I’m ready to go to work.”

Frank on the timing of the announcement, before the final football game, with boosters upset, etc.: “Those sorts of things didn’t influence the timing of being before the game. It did influence my thinking of doing this sooner rather than later.”

Graham on why he thinks he can be successful in fundraising: “Well that’s a good question, and I’m not sure this early in the game I can give you specific answers to your question. I can tell you that throughout my business career I’ve been challenged at raising massive amounts of capital for my own companies as well as companies that I’ve worked for and with. And I was told frequently, ‘It can’t be done.’ And I love those kinds of challenges. I don’t like challenges that are completely unrealistic and so far-fetched that they can’t be delivered. But I can tell you, personally, with the profile that I have at Colorado State University, I’m a graduate, I played professional football, I was drafted by the (Miami) Dolphins, played football here, had a great business career; I never once was called. I reached out to the university. That’s fundamentally a problem, and so that’s the kind of thing that we’re going to address. That’s changed. Paul (Kowalczyk) helped to change that dynamic and there’s other people inside the department that have changed that but I can tell you there’s lots of additional progress to be made in and around on that topic.”

Graham on his short-term vision: “Well I think we can change the culture. I really can’t tell you what the culture of the CSU athletic department is because I haven’t lived it. All I can tell you is the culture I want. That culture may exist or it may not exist in its entirety, or not at all. What I want is a culture of accountability and a culture that’s driven to deliver results. We are all paid to come to work and deliver results. We didn’t come to ask us to sit in a chair. They asked us to come to work to deliver results. And we know what those results have to be: A program of high integrity, academic excellence, and wins. That is the mantra that will exist within the athletic department.”

Graham on his timeline to establish that culture: “I don’t know. It’s not an eight-hour-a-day job. It’s seven days a week and as many hours as I can fit into a day. Not to do drive-bys and meet on the fly, but to really sit down with each of the coaches and people inside my staff and really understand what they do and why they do it. How can we do what we do better? How can we do 10 percent more for 5 percent less, those kinds of questions. And, what does each athletic program inside of CSU need to be more successful. We’ve got some programs that are really on the rise and doing well. Obviously our women’s volleyball team is exceptional. (Tom) Hilbert is doing a great job. Our basketball team, what a great night last night was (a win over CU). In all sincerity, our basketball team is on the rise. Our golf team, our men’s golf team is performing well. So there are some good things happening inside CSU athletics. Just carry that theme across every single program. And whether you like it or not, football is not the CSU athletic department, but it certainly is the program that people define success by, for the most part, and we have to get our football program right.”

Graham on whether he expects to make the key decision regarding the football staff in the next week: “I’ll make the decision within a timeline that’s appropriate, whether it takes a week or six months, I’m not going to rush the decision, and make a decision that’s not appropriate for the university.”

Graham on whether it’s fair to say he could wait six months to make that decision: “Not practical.”

Graham on Colorado State being a great secret: “I don’t really think that the fact that the nation doesn’t know about the quality that exists at Colorado State University is something that I need to change. I’m not going to say that’s an objective, if we want to change the perception people have, of the knowledge or lack of knowledge people have, about the academic and research excellence that exists at Colorado State. That’s a byproduct that will come as the result of a successful athletic program. And so we’ll focus on delivering successful athletics and meeting the objectives that we set for ourselves. And if we do that, I can guarantee you people will be talking about Colorado State University across the spectrum. We’ll no longer be a secret. It’s not a secret; it’s just not an institution people talk about a lot. When I got married to my wife, my wife said, ‘Colorado State? Where’s that?’ She’s from Arkansas, so you can excuse that to a degree.”

Frank on how long they’ve known each other and when he started thinking about this move: “I think Jack and I met, a couple of years ago now? As I said before, I had reached a point in my thinking in which I knew I wanted to make a change, and started to develop the formula or algorithm I was going to use to try to think about who would be a good person to move into that role. As often happens in things like this, a degree of serendipity intervened. Jack had scheduled a meeting to come and talk with me about a different topic. And as he was talking, I had just finished up making some notes for myself about where I wanted to go and as he was talking I was thinking, ‘There are some commonalities here.’ “

Graham on whether he was surprised: “I was. I was very surprised. As Tony said, I went to talk to Tony about a specific topic. I was asked to give more money to the university and I was having a difficult time getting to ‘yes’ because I felt that we were playing around the edges and the margins, as opposed to attacking the core issues that exist inside our athletic department. So I was talking to Tony about that specific topic and saying, ‘Let’s make some real changes here.’ I had a specific idea in mind, and so that’s what triggered our conversation. When he came back to me a week later and said, ‘Would you consider being our athletic director?’, I was surprised.”

Graham on his specific idea: “I’m going to hold that, because I really don’t want to talk about that right now. I do have his full backing to the idea, but I think that’s not the focus right now. More to come later on that subject. It’s a big one.”

Graham on his family and personal life: “I wish it was a secret where I live. I live in Boulder. I apologize for that. When I moved to Colorado, I moved back to Colorado 15 years ago to form the company I just sold. And I selected Boulder for a variety of reasons, none of which turned out to be very good. I really should’ve gone to Fort Collins. I do love Fort Collins; it’s a great community. Boulder’s a wonderful community as well; it truly is. My wife and I live west of Boulder, about 10 miles up in the mountains. We have horses. We have a country life and we love our country life. I’ve got three children, a son that lives in Illinois who is a firefighter and he’s also a farrier; he shoes horses. I’ve got a daughter who just graduated from nursing school, from the University of Wyoming; she had a great education there. My youngest daughter as I said is a senior here at Colorado State studying agricultural economics.”

Graham on what he’s been doing since he sold his business: “Trying to figure out what retirement would look like. It’s not bad, getting up every morning and being able to spend time with my wife and my dog and horses, playing golf. I told Tony earlier that I really tackled golf. I was a good golfer when I was a kid, and I decided to take golf seriously starting early in the summer. I played golf five or six times a week this summer. My handicap went up. What’s wrong with that picture? That’s why I’m back at work; I couldn’t make that work.”

Graham on his age: “I’m 59.”

Graham on his relationship with Steve Fairchild: “Steve and I don’t know each other well. He and I have shaken hands with each other a few times. I’ve gone to a handful of Steve’s roundtable, white-board sessions and I think Steve’s technical knowledge of the game of football is fantastic. I enjoyed listening to him talk, but I don’t have a personal relationship with Steve. So it’s an opportunity for me to get to know Steve, and for Steve to get to know me. There’s a learning curve each of us have to step onto.”

Graham on his wife’s reaction: “It was mixed. She’s 100 percent supportive. She knows this is a great job for me. I am so passionate about college athletics. I absolutely love athletics across the spectrum. I’d just assume sit and watch a bunch of 10-year-old Little Leaguers play baseball. I get as much pleasure out of that as anything. I just love sport. I’m pretty well versed in it as well, and having the business acumen that I’ve got, she knew this was a job that I would love doing and she thought might be pretty good at it. So, she’s 100 percent supportive and she will back me 100 percent. But at the same time, we are giving up a lot. I do actually like my wife, and giving up being home every day, instead of traveling 200 days of year – which is what my business life required of me – being with my dog every day, those are all really wonderful things and I enjoyed that. It’s the first time in 35 years I’ve had that experience so that’s what I’m giving up, but at the same time I’m really excited about the challenge and the opportunity it presents. You asked me how old I am, 59; I’m not ready to check out. At 59, I feel like I have the energy of a 25-year-old, so I’m ready to go to work.”

Frank on the timing of the announcement, before the final football game, with boosters upset, etc.: “Those sorts of things didn’t influence the timing of being before the game. It did influence my thinking of doing this sooner rather than later.”

 

 

Tickets
Rocky Mountain Showdown
ROCKY MOUNTAIN

SHOWDOWN

AUG. 29

7:00 PM (Denver)
CSU vs. Colorado

Purchase Tickets
Tickets Icon
FOOTBALL

SINGLE-GAME

TICKETS

2014 Season
On Sale Now!

Purchase Tickets
Volleyball
VOLLEYBALL

SEASON

TICKETS

2014 Season
On Sale Now!

Purchase Tickets
My Account
MY ACCOUNT

LOGIN HERE

RENEW SEASON TICKETS

Update Information

Purchase Tickets
Schedules

More Headlines
Shop
CSU RAMS
Official Store
Shop Now

Follow us!

Instagram