University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano said Thursday he decided not to report domestic violence allegations against an assistant football coach because he didn't believe he had to, based on his reading of university policy.
DiStefano stood by his interpretation of the policy, but reiterated earlier statements in which he said CU employees should "err on the side of reporting" in the future.
"I don't think I misinterpreted, I just think that probably — as I said in the memo, (it's best to) err on the side of caution," DiStefano told the Daily Camera on his way into a CU Board of Regents meeting on Thursday.
But members of a CU faculty group, who are bound by the same reporting requirements as the chancellor, say they believe DiStefano and others were required by that policy to report the allegations.
And while the director of CU's Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance declined to address this specific case, she told the Camera earlier this week that campus supervisors are required to report any possible prohibited conduct.
If you go
What: CU Board of Regents meeting
When: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday
Where: University Memorial Center Room 235, Boulder campus
Cost: Free and open to the public
More info and to view the full agenda: bit.ly/2c5rG17
DiStefano said he based his decision on the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance's " Processes and Procedures" document that contains procedural information related to several university policies, including the one that covers domestic violence. That office investigates sexual misconduct, discrimination and harassment.
On his way into the meeting, DiStefano pulled out a paper copy of the document and pointed out a section titled "Jurisdiction."
He said that the section "tells where the conduct occurs." The document states that CU policies apply to conduct that occurs on university property or at university functions, programs or events conducted off-campus.
CU policies also govern conduct that occurs off-campus if the conduct could adversely affect the "health, safety or security of any member of the university community or the mission of the university," according to the document.
DiStefano said when he read that section, he came to the conclusion that he did not need to report domestic violence allegations levied against then-coach Joe Tumpkin by Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend in December.
"There's a section of the policy on jurisdiction and that's the piece that I read," DiStefano said. "That's what it was based upon."
'I don't want to talk about that'
DiStefano and top Athletic Department officials spent two hours Thursday morning briefing the CU Board of Regents on a range of topics, including student-athlete success, facility needs, fundraising and more.
Athletic Department officials did not bring up the domestic violence allegations or the university's handling of them during the public portion of the meeting, and none of the eight regents present asked about the situation.
Athletic Director Rick George also would not discuss the Tumpkin situation before the meeting began.
"Nope, I don't want to talk about that," George said. "I made my statement and I'm done."
The regents later moved into executive session, which is closed to the public. Earlier this week, board chair Irene Griego said the regents planned to discuss the situation in private.
Earlier this month, a Sports Illustrated story revealed that Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend told CU football coach Mike MacIntyre on Dec. 9 that Tumpkin had repeatedly and violently abused her for the last two years.
At some point after that, MacIntyre informed George about the allegations, who in turn informed the chancellor.
Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend called MacIntyre again a few days later and left a message saying she planned to go to the police and seek a restraining order against Tumpkin.
Still, MacIntyre chose Tumpkin to call defensive plays in the Buffs' Dec. 29 appearance at the Alamo Bowl.
Though a judge signed a temporary restraining order against Tumpkin on Dec. 20, university officials said they didn't see a copy of it until Jan. 6, when a Daily Camera reporter contacted the department with questions.
The Athletic Department suspended Tumpkin on Jan. 6 and told him to resign on Jan. 27. He was arrested on Feb. 1 and later charged with five felony counts of second-degree assault.
According to a police affidavit, Tumpkin's ex-girlfriend told investigators that he assaulted her more than 100 times over a period of 21 months.
Earlier this week, CU Regent Jack Kroll said he believed DiStefano, George and MacIntyre were required to report the domestic violence allegations to CU's Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. He said he believed they should be held to the same standards as other employees who are required to report misconduct but fail to do so.
The university's sexual misconduct policy prohibits intimate partner abuse and requires any employee who is considered a "responsible employee" to promptly report information regarding such abuse or other forms of sexual misconduct to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.
A responsible employee is someone with hiring, promotion and disciplinary responsibilities, such as a supervisor.
The Daily Camera reached out to Valerie Simons, CU's Title IX coordinator and the executive director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, to clarify the reporting obligations of responsible employees when the complainant is not affiliated with CU.
In an emailed response, Simons wrote that, generally speaking, responsible employees are required to report any possible prohibited conduct. She pointed out that failing to report potential misconduct is also considered prohibited conduct.
If a responsible employee fails to make a report, that person could be formally investigated and sanctioned, depending on the outcome of the investigation, she said. The Office of Institutional Equity also may decide to pursue an informal resolution process instead, she said.
That office has received at least one report that DiStefano, George and MacIntyre failed to report the domestic violence allegations, a potential policy violation.
Members of the Boulder Faculty Assembly executive committee reported their failure to report last week.
"The committee believes that it is important that this possible failure to report be thoroughly investigated," said Alastair Norcross, a member of that committee and an associate philosophy professor, adding that the group was also concerned that "a failure to report on the part of such senior figures may be treated differently from possible violations on the part of other employees."
Simons declined to discuss the Tumpkin situation specifically, but wrote that responsible employees learn about their reporting obligations during an online training they must take every five years. Responsible employees are also reminded of their reporting obligations via emails from the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, administrative emails, targeted communication campaigns and in-person trainings.
"We have continued to expand the number of in-person trainings offered and have worked systematically to ensure that many departments go beyond the online requirement, even though that has not yet been required," Simons wrote. "Last year, we trained 3,668 employees in-person and 6,255 completed the online training."
She declined to provide information about the last time DiStefano, George and MacIntyre underwent mandatory training, citing an ongoing investigation into the matter.
The campus is engaging an outside consultant to conduct an independent review of the situation. Campus spokesman Ryan Huff said Thursday afternoon that the paperwork with the consultant was not complete and thus was not available.
He also said he could not provide information on the scope of the investigation, as it was still being defined.