Bill McCartney's past could hurt his future.
McCartney, 70, has openly lobbied to become Colorado's coach, replacing Dan Hawkins, who was fired earlier this month. It's a job McCartney held from 1982-94.
Although he was wildly successful as a coach — his Buffaloes won a share of the 1990 national championship and three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles — critics say used his position to push anti-gay and sexist agendas.
Chancellor Phil DiStefano has received 15 to 20 letters from members of the campus community who have expressed "deep concerns about Coach McCartney's candidacy," according to the Boulder Daily Camera. An email is also circulating that raises questions about McCartney's off-the-field remarks on abortion and gay rights, as well as the criminal records of his players.
"McCartney has every right to have his own beliefs," said Glenda Russell, who works as a psychologist on campus. "But he stepped over the line on a number of occasions when he used his position at the university to promulgate those beliefs and insist that other people join him in behaviors that were associated with those beliefs."
This is not the first time the university has heard complaints about McCartney. In 1985, officials adopted a policy against coaches organizing or conducting religious activities, "including promotion of prayer or Bible readings by players or coaches." The move came after complaints surrounding team prayers and organized religious activities conducted by McCartney.
But it didn't seem to slow McCartney, who in 1990 started Promise Keepers, a male Christian group that attracted more than 50,000 men to Folsom Field in 1994. The event was moved to Denver the next year to accommodate later crowds.
The National Organization for Women protested Promise Keepers events in the late 1990s. NOW said the all-male religious group's leaders were sexist because their mission included addressing the "moral problems" of teenage pregnancy, unwed mothers and women as spiritual leaders. Last year, for the first time, Promise Keepers invited women to their rally.
Those uniting against McCartney becoming coach haven't stopped there. They point to a 1989 Sports Illustrated report that detailed two dozen Colorado players being arrested on suspicion of charges, including sexual assault, from 1986-89. They also recall a speech in 1992 when McCartney referred to homosexuality as "an abomination against almighty God."