Chancellor's Corner: Lessons learned from handling of Tumpkin domestic violence case

Published: Feb. 3, 2017

Today, Sports Illustrated published an article on domestic violence allegations against former assistant football coach Joe Tumpkin. First, Head Coach Mike MacIntyre, Athletic Director Rick George and I want to apologize to the victim in this case, as well as to her son. She should have received an immediate response from the university pertaining to the actions we might take as well as expressing concern for her safety and any support she needed to deal with repercussions of the trauma she suffered.

Chancellor DiStefano

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano

My staff provided the reporter a full timeline of what occurred, but Sports Illustrated chose not to publish key elements of it. So let me be clear on what happened.

In mid-December, Joe Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend notified Coach MacIntyre of an allegation of physical assault. MacIntyre immediately informed George. I learned of these allegations shortly thereafter. At that time, we believed it was premature to take personnel action because there was no restraining order, criminal charges, civil action or other documentation of the allegation. Tumpkin signed and acknowledged receipt for the temporary restraining order on Dec. 30, according to court records. But no athletic department officials nor university administrators saw a copy of it until the afternoon of Jan. 6, shortly after a Boulder Daily Camera reporter informed the athletic department of the filing and was seeking comment.

Less than two hours after seeing court documentation, George indefinitely suspended Tumpkin from his coaching duties. He was later asked to resign and did so on Jan. 27. Broomfield police filed criminal charges against Tumpkin on Jan. 31. Sports Illustrated asked us if university funds are being used for Tumpkin’s defense counsel. They are not. I should also note Sports Illustrated incorrectly reported that Tumpkin received a promotion to interim defensive coordinator ahead of the Alamo Bowl. Tumpkin was not promoted, nor did he receive any adjustment in salary or title.

I have consulted with OIEC on the reporting obligations in this case, where it involved a complainant who was not a student, faculty or staff member and where the alleged abuse did not occur on campus. This was certainly a confusing case as to our reporting requirements under our policy. We have a strong policy on domestic violence and sexual misconduct that covers the campus.

However, we regret that as soon as each of us knew of the allegations of domestic violence, written evidence or not, we did not report them to our office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. I am now making it clear to all CU Boulder mandatory reporters that even when they become aware of possible domestic abuse that does not involve a person affiliated with the campus, I want them to err on the side of reporting it to OIEC. In hindsight, we should have done so here.

We have made a concerted effort in recent years to strengthen our enforcement of Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act and our obligations under those statutes. We have also strengthened services to support victims of sexual misconduct and other abuse and emphasized the importance of reporting. Clearly we need to do more to train our community to report issues of domestic and dating violence at the same level that they would report issues of sexual assault.

It is important for our community to know I take our shortfalls in this instance seriously and we need to do better to represent our values. 

Philip P. DiStefano,
Chancellor