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BENCHED: Burman suspends, fines Christensen for one game

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Posted: Monday, October 22, 2012 3:36 pm

The word “resilient” was used a lot around the University of Wyoming football offices on Monday.

And it had nothing to do with Saturday’s blowout loss or the fact that the team is 1-6 on the season.

The Cowboys program was stunned when athletics director Tom Burman announced that coach Dave Christensen is suspended for one week and has been fined $50,000 for his actions after UW’s 28-27 home loss to Air Force on Oct. 20.

The suspension took effect immediately. Burman said Christensen will be paid under the suspension, but that one week's salary is significantly less than the fine levied by Burman.

According to Christensen’s contract, what he did could have resulted in worse punishment, including termination. His new five-year, $1.2 million contract, which was signed on Jan. 11, 2012, states Burman, with the concurrence from Buchanan, may terminate an employee’s appointment upon written notice for a wide range of reasons, the first of which is: “Conduct unbecoming of a member of the University athletic staff or which bring discredit to the University and causes serious harm to the University as reasonably determined by the University.”

“The reputation of our university and our athletic program is of the utmost importance,” Burman said. “Over the past week I have reviewed the contract situation with our university legal department and have spoken numerous times with President (Tom) Buchanan.”

Christensen will not be allowed contact with coaches or players during the week or be given access to UW’s football offices. The suspension will end Sunday morning.

Associate head coach Pete Kaligis was named to serve as head coach this week in preparation for Saturday’s home game against No. 21 Boise State.

Christensen was not available for comment. Besides Burman, only Kaligis, senior center Nick Carlson and senior safety Luke Ruff were made available to the media.

UW announced that no other players will be available for the rest of the week.

Christensen was reprimanded last Monday by the Mountain West for his altercation with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

The incident stemmed from Christensen’s perceived lack of ethics on Calhoun’s part regarding an injury to Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz midway through the fourth quarter.

Dietz had his helmet knocked off on a run near the UW goal line. As he was coming off the field (a player is required to miss one play when his helmet is dislodged), Dietz went to the turf about 10 yards from the Air Force sideline.

Time out was called by the officials as Air Force trainers attended to Dietz. After a couple minutes, backup Kale Pearson came in for the next play and scored the eventual winner on a bootleg run.

Late Thursday night, a YouTube video surfaced showing Christensen using a profanity-laced tirade at Calhoun as the two walked toward the north end zone. The altercation was near fans, who could easily hear Christensen repeatedly swear at Calhoun.

As of Monday, over 100,000 views of the video had occurred.

“It was seen by many people around the state and the country,” Burman said. “It did have an influence.”

He said Monday that he had wanted to make a thorough evaluation of the incident before taking any action. Burman said he saw the video for the first time on Monday.

“I didn’t want to make a hasty decision, and there was no new evidence presented to me (last) Monday night to today,” he said. “I needed time to reflect upon it. It was probably a suspend-able offense the day it happened.”

When asked if he has been contacted by donors or others outside the program, Burman added:

“Absolutely. From people I knew well to people who were important to the program to people who weren’t important to the program. We heard from lots of them.

“I wouldn’t say that’s what pushed me over the top. In my mind I didn’t want to make a hasty decision. It didn’t matter what game we did it; we just needed to do it.”

Burman said he informed Christensen Monday morning of his decision.

“He was devastated, crushed but took it in a fashion that if you know coach Christensen you would expect,” Burman said.

Kaligis, who is in his fourth year at UW and who was promoted to assistant head coach this season, said the game plan remains as if Christensen were still involved.

“Coach Christensen has a great program is place,” he said. “It runs really smoothly. The players on this team are resilient, very resilient and continue to work.

“I know they’re going to go out there (at practice) tomorrow and be just fine. From a staff standpoint of view, nothing changes. It’s still a day-to-day business.”

Center Carlson, who said he hadn’t seen the video, added that he trusts the decision made by the administration.

“It’s nothing that I can really control,” he said. “I can control snapping the ball and blocking people and getting this team in the right mindset.

“I think the university did what they thought was right. There are a lot of people that care about the Steamboat and the University of Wyoming and the image that we portray.

“We’re instilling our trust in the leaders of this university and the decision they made is what we have to roll with.”

The Cowboys are 19-26 under Christensen and have been to two bowls in the last three seasons.

But with a team expected to compete for a MW title this season, the Cowboys have fallen to 1-6 after Saturday’s 42-14 loss to Fresno State.

Burman said he still feels confident in Christensen’s ability to build and guide the program.

As for the fine, Burman said, “There’s no logic to the $50,000. I’m not sure where that money will go. It will not go to football.”

He added that there would be no further discipline from the MW.

“(Christensen) feels terrible,” Burman said. “He let his family down. He let his team down. He let his coaching staff down. He let the university down.

“If that means he’s humbled, I guess the answer is yes.”

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  • don't fret none posted at 7:11 pm on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    don't fret none Posts: 3

    In a desperate attempt to stanch a public relations nightmare, UW trustees have taken the unusual step of firing UW's new president BEFORE he/she is hired.

    "We understand that throwing the president-designate under the bus is symbolic, but heck, we really do appreciate the new president taking a fall for the team. Whoever he or she may be, this kind of sacrifice demonstrates what is great about UW!"

  • cozy cowboy posted at 6:02 pm on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    cozy cowboy Posts: 50

    Burman is the one that ought to be fined and suspended. What a guy. Talked into doing "something" after not having the guts to point out that it wasn't Coach Christensen who cheated, but the Air Force. You yahoo's who have never been in competition and been beaten by cheating ought to put your brains in gear before jerking your knee. Read my lips! The Air Force gained the advantage by FAKING an injury. That is cheating. Burman, "Get Lost".

  • riverrock19 posted at 2:15 pm on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    riverrock19 Posts: 12

    I went to YouTube and watched this one. Here it is.

    Frankly, Coach Dave should be fired. His behavior is beyond explanation. He needed staff and others to pull him away.

    Burman was a coward not to act sooner.

    But as I said, once it was shown, it had to be dealt with. Without the video, UW would have buried this one. Sorry boys, you just lost all of my money for funding football. Shameful. Just shameful and there is no rational explanation. Disgusting.

  • riverrock19 posted at 10:24 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    riverrock19 Posts: 12

    Burman had little choice once the video went YouTube viral. It could have been buried but now that the truth is out, UW needed to respond. This is why it took two weeks to suspend Coach Dave. Typical UW athletics and administration. Boys you got caught and you could not control YouTube like a local media outlet.

  • wyojoseph posted at 8:22 am on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    wyojoseph Posts: 3

    Coach Christensen really flashed his backside after the AF game. He used built-up frustration as an excuse for his immature behavior and extremely poor sportsmanship. Coach Calhoun did nothing outside the rules of collegiate football. Wyoming did not lose the game as the result of Dietz feigning injury. Wyoming lost the game because they were ineffective the second half. I agree with the comments already shared that Mr. Burman procrastinated on this issue too long before taking action. He should have done all of his consulting and decision making on Sunday after the game and announced it on Monday. All of this said, what really concerns me is that the actions by Christensen will probably have a negative effect on recruiting. It's already an extremely competive slugfest out there trying to attract the leftover football talent ("red chip") players to UW. High school players - and their parents - will think twice about selecting a program where the head coach has a caustic temper and cannot communicate without shouting and cursing. Sadly, we now have a pariah at the helm of our football program. For that reason alone, Dave Christensen must go.

  • xxwingerxx posted at 10:17 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    xxwingerxx Posts: 1

    Yeah, old coach Dave is certainly a minx; what a role model. I have no dog in this fight; I live in South Dakota but it seems to me that Troy Calhoun has more integrity in his little finger than this knucklehead has in his entire body (and a big body it is). If the AD at WYO (Burman??) had any stones, he'd fire the idiot, but I guess good coaches are hard to come down at the ole university.

  • F15 posted at 10:12 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    F15 Posts: 2

    Why do coaches think vulgarity reflects anything good. I watched the tape on You tube. It was sick. Leadership is more than yelling four letter words at people. Toughness does not come from words and bully actions. For 1.2 mil per year, I think UW could do better.

  • pete195161 posted at 9:41 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    pete195161 Posts: 344



  • riverrock19 posted at 7:51 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    riverrock19 Posts: 12

    An appropriate consequence for a pitiful display by our coach. Hopefully he will learn something from this, that is, his mouth has damaged the team.

  • Ziggy posted at 7:10 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 4

    We had a chance to win against Fresno, since the season and Boise State are a wash, now was the time to suspend. This suspension sends the wrong message to the students and community.

  • Ralph posted at 5:19 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Ralph Posts: 1

    Burman should should never have done this after a week had passed. If he was going to do something it should have been Monday after Air Force. All Burman did was to fan the flame from smoldering embers.

    Just made a bad season worse.

    Burman really failed at his job with this move.

  • Sothern Poke posted at 5:06 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Sothern Poke Posts: 63

    We seem to be beating a dead horse. If suspension was in order do it for the Fresno State game. Had the MW done more this might have been justified. If Coach Dave is resisting his culpibility okay maybe take further action? Putting your spur into a horse that has quit bucking is just plain mean. My question to Tom B is "Are we still trying to get money back from Joe Glenn for the finger incident? Tom you have taken an incident that almost everyone said was wrong and now you are making a martyr out of this coach. WHY??? I don't know who is influencing you but remember this if it comes down to backing a liberal faculty ethical conduct or a conservative Alumi base wanting a smash mouth football team guess who wins.? Let us move on and let us do it NOW

  • Wolfie posted at 4:08 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    Wolfie Posts: 15

    Wow. I figured this was over since nothing was done before the Fresno State game. I want to see the team move forward, but what is the best way?


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