Steve Addazio arrived at Colorado State fresh off of seven subpar seasons as the head coach in Chestnut Hill coaching the Boston College Eagles.
In his first season as leader of the Rams there was controversy. Team members spoke out against alleged racially insensitive remarks, unacceptable practices and incidents of breaking COVID-19 protocols. Following what the school called a thorough investigation, there were no findings substantiating racial harassment claims.
But there was enough smoke to create a firestorm, as Addazio and staff would be placed under the watchful eye of CSU President Joyce McConnell and athletics director Joe Parker.
38 Miles Done ✅
— Colorado State Football (@CSUFootball) November 5, 2021
In October 2020, Addazio reportedly made racially derogatory comments toward a custodian.
He also reportedly threatened the job of the custodian during an altercation. The custodian says he was talked down to and berated and called “boy.”
According to Yahoo.com:
“The custodian told the investigator that prior to the altercation he was cleaning a restroom in CSU’s football facility, and part of the process requires chemicals that need to “dwell” for a certain period of time. During that time, the custodian blocked the bathroom with a cart while cleaning other areas of the office.
Upon returning to the restroom and beginning to clean the sink area, the custodian alleged that Addazio entered and prepared to use the restroom. The custodian said he told Addazio it was closed, to which the coach continued and said, “I guess I’m going to use it.”
The custodian, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation when contacted by the Coloradoan, said he replied, “I guess my job doesn’t matter.”
He claims Addazio then turned and said, “What did you say to me, boy?” at which point the custodian again said, “I guess my job doesn’t matter.” The custodian told the investigator that Addazio then followed him out of the restroom and said, “I don’t think you know who I am, boy. I run this building.”
Now any white man with sense knows you can’t go aroung calling young Black men “boy.”
Addazio’s firing, while sort of surprising, is unfortunately part of a pattern that’s long been in place as pertains to Caucasian coaches mistreating Black players.
This situation is a bit different, as the target of Addazio’s racism was a custodian trying to make ends meet. Systemically, there’s no difference between the toxic environment Addazio was creating for his Black athletes and the way he addressed a university worker.
Urban Meyer Played A Huge Role In Addazio Being Hired By CSU
The good ol’ boy network has served Addazio well. His career head coaching record of 61-67 didn’t really have folks beating down his door to hire him after leaving BC.
Urban Meyer’s friendship and influence weighed heavily, as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach was once a CSU assistant.
Meyer used that influence to help Addazio — who worked for him at Florida — land the job. Meyer is undoubtedly a great coach, but he has a borderline hideous record when it comes to making coaching hires. For that reason alone, the hire should have been more scrutinized.
Especially considering the fallout from Meyer’s decision to support Ohio State coach Zach Smith despite knowing that the guy was beating the heck out of his wife. That entire situation hit the fan in 2019, but Meyer escaped any real culpability.
In retrospect, Meyer hosed the Rams with the Addazio hiring.
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 2, 2021
Joe Parker Says Custodian Incident Didn’t Influence: Search For New Coach Begins Immediately
AD Parker says the firing of Addazio isn’t based on the October 2020 incident, but you have to believe that the 2020 allegations still played a role in his firing, although nothing came of them.
Addazio’s firing stems from losing 12 of his 16 games.
Addazio went 1-3 in a COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. After beginning the 2021 season 3-3 and pushing highly-ranked Iowa, the wheels came off as the Rams lost their remaining six games. Not what the administration anticipated when the school moved on from Mike Bobo in 2020 after he went 28-35.
After signing a six-year extension in April to play the Rocky Mountain Showdown against archrival Colorado until 2038, Colorado State is now looking for a leader to carry them into the next matchup beginning in 2023.
These games will be played on campus at Fort Collins and Boulder for the first time ever. The game has traditionally been played at the home of the Denver Broncos, Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.
Now the search for a new coach begins immediately. Addazio was due to receive a $5M buyout but will receive just $3M as he was relieved of his duties. Don’t shed a tear for him. That’s a major come-up for Addazio and a small price for CSU to pay to get rid of a guy who stained the integrity of the institution with racism and disrespect.
Parker says he can control that part of it to an extent:
“That’s the one thing I can control, minimizing the financial impact of it. But it’s not a trivial number by any means and it will be stretched out over what the remainder of Addazio’s employment agreement was. So we’ve got three years to manage and mitigate it.”
Parker says they won’t necessarily be stuck on coaching experience during the search but rather someone who can lead, build and educate.
“I want to really approach this with an open mind and do our best to cast the net far and wide. I want someone who’s going to view themselves as a culture builder and a committed educator.”
The school needs a young, innovative coach who is comfortable dealing with people of color and isn’t stuck in the past.
More news from our partners: