FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) Colorado State University President Tony Frank has fired athletic director Jack Graham, saying Friday the two had irreconcilable differences of opinion over the direction of the department.
In an email explaining his decision, Frank said the firing "is unrelated to the stadium issue." Graham was leading a campaign to raise $110 million by October to get the go-ahead for a proposed $220 million on-campus stadium project.
Frank, who said he'd have no further comment on his firing of Graham, plans to report to the university's Board of Governors in October about the project and will discuss the impact of the leadership change as part of that presentation.
John Morris, Graham's deputy since July 2012, was named interim athletic director.
"CSU athletics has made great strides in the past few years, thanks in significant part to Jack Graham's vision and passion for CSU," Morris said in a statement. "With our outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff, in addition to the tremendous support we receive from everyone in the Rams community, we will continue to build on the strong momentum that has been created."
The school will conduct a national search for a successor and will announce details later this month.
Graham, a former Rams quarterback and a retired successful businessman, was hired Dec. 1, 2011, replacing Paul Kowalczyk. Graham had impressed Frank after approaching him about leading fundraising for an on-campus football stadium after Kowalczyk had reached out to him.
In the three years since, Graham hired football coach Jim McElwain, men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy and women's basketball coach Ryun Williams.
Graham called his firing "surprising and eeply disappointing to me."
"I will personally miss the opportunity to continue to build on what we have accomplished during the past 2 1-2 years," Graham said in a statement that outlined his successes, including the hiring of nine head coaches, helping to strengthen the Mountain West Conference and creating the CSU Hall of Fame.
He also noted an increase in the numbers of boosters and ticket sales and said, "We've set records for fund-raising for athletics at CSU and have garnered tremendous support for the stadium."
"There are many more accomplishments and even more opportunities for greater success for Colorado State athletics going forward," Graham added. "I sincerely hope that the university's decision today will not derail the significant strides and positive developments that have been made in CSU athletics and our fundraising efforts for the new stadium."