Barnett still working amid reports he could be out
BOULDER – Gary Barnett slipped out his office through a side door Wednesday evening, still the coach at Colorado but with his future uncertain amid reports he could be fired soon.Barnett, who left with his attorney, John Rodman, refused to comment on a report in the Denver Post on Wednesday that said a source close to contract negotiations “indicated” that Barnett will not be brought back to coach the Buffaloes.CU closed its season with three straight losses to Iowa State, Nebraska and Texas by a combined score of 130-22. The source, which the newspaper did not identify, said the poor finish was the final straw. Barnett has one year remaining on his contract and had looked to be in line for an extension until the bad finish.Athletic director Mike Bohn, who arrived back in Colorado from meetings in New York, called the Post report “speculation.””I don’t know about that,” Bohn told the AP when asked if the report was true. “It’s inappropriate for me to comment at this time.”Asked if Barnett’s dismissal was imminent, the AD said, “No, I wouldn’t say that.””I think for you, for everybody, it’s just mere speculation at this point,” Bohn said. “I’ve been at meetings and Gary’s been fresh off his last game. We’ll have an opportunity to sit down and talk about it in the near future.”Bohn did not immediately return messages left by AP on Wednesday night, after he arrived back in Colorado.Sports information director Dave Plati said he couldn’t confirm media reports that the two were meeting Wednesday afternoon. Plati said Barnett was in his office working most of the day and called it “business as usual.”Early on Wednesday, Barnett told Denver radio station KOA-AM he didn’t know if his job was in jeopardy and that he hoped to get answers as soon as possible for his players and the program.”I don’t know any of the validity to this,” he said. “I don’t know if there is validity, I don’t know if there isn’t. All I know is, at this point in time, nobody’s said anything to me.”The 59-year-old coach has a year remaining on his contract and, if he is fired, he’ll be owed about $1.8 million – money many believe the school cannot afford to pay. Barnett’s record is 49-38 after seven seasons.He had emerged relatively unscathed from a recruiting scandal, winning Big 12 Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and advancing to the conference title game for the second straight year this season.The president, chancellor and athletic director all stepped down in the aftermath of the scandal, which resulted in an investigation that concluded drugs, alcohol and sex were used to entice recruits to the Boulder campus, though none of practices were sanctioned by university officials.Players generally shared their support for Barnett.”He kept us motivated, talking to us with tears in his eyes before games and making us practice hard,” defensive end Abraham Wright told Denver station KCNC-TV. “He’s done everything, in my opinion, a coach could do.”Added defensive tackle James Garee: “The way he’s navigated through these past few years, I’m not sure any other coach could have done that.”
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