On a sun-splashed spring day that should have been about nothing but good news, the University of Colorado somehow managed to throw a little water on its own parade.

Thursday was the official groundbreaking ceremony for CU's new basketball and volleyball practice facility, an $11 million building that should prove to be a major boost for each program.

It was an event worth celebrating, and Buff bigwigs were out in full force. The president, chancellor, athletic director and a regent or two were there. Pomp was followed by circumstance, and donors, boosters and distinguished alums were on hand to bear witness.

Naturally, all the right things were said. Men's basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik thanked everyone. Volleyball coach Liz Kritza promised that the facility would help her program produce excellence. Former CU great Lisa Van Goor -- who knows a thing or two about excellence -- provided a necessary look to the past and a wish for the future.

But there was something -- someone-- missing.

Quite noticeable by her absence was women's basketball head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller.

The politically correct explanation is that McConnell-Miller was "on spring break vacation with her family."

The cold, hard-fact correct answer is that McConnell-Miller is "on her way out the door," and instead of accepting her fate based on her performance, she's kicking and screaming every inch of the way.


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Buff athletic director Mike Bohn wouldn't confirm reports that the school is negotiating a settlement with the soon-to-be-former coach. Bohn would only say that the "evaluationprocess" was ongoing.

Evaluation?

Let us help.

Fact is, Kathy McConnell-Miller didn`t get the job done in five years.

Five years. Five years of losing records in conference play and four losing records overall. Eleventh in the conference in her first year and 11th in her fifth (sandwiched around a dead-last finish in her fourth). Marginal to mediocre recruiting, at least when compared to the rest of the Big 12.

And overall, very little -- if any -- sign of improvement. Simply, she was horribly overmatched in the Big 12.

There`s your evaluation. Done and done.

Five years is plenty to prove your point (right Hawk?). Colorado needs to move in a different direction, and that decision should have been reached -- and announced -- long before Thursday`s groundbreaking.

It`s been two weeks since the Buffs bowed out in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. That`s about 13 days and 12 hours more than necessary to reach a decision and move forward.

Seriously ... were those shovels breaking ground Thursday, or digging a hole to bury something?

Only CU could turn something so simple into such a difficult and convoluted process.

Schools hire and fire coaches all the time. It`s part of the business of college athletics. Decisions are made, all parties involved are informed and everyone moves on.

But not at CU, where reality all too often seems to be on permanent vacation and the school seems bound and determined to live up to Boulder`s reputation as the place where common sense is a myth.

At CU, matters of business are bound and gagged by bureaucratic red tape. At CU, the decision-making process is waylaid in a morass of administrative mumbo-jumbo. It`s a culture that has to change.

It`s not the first time questions surrounding a coach have left CU officials talking in circles and saying nothing.

Five years ago, Gary Barnett and his staff twisted in the wind while rumors circulated for a week.

Four years ago, Ricardo Patton beat them to the punch and announced his own firing before his final season at CU even began.

Last fall, the fate of football coach Dan Hawkins bounced around like a muffed punt.

Who`s got it? Nobody.

And now we have a coach who`s "on vacation" while her assistants admit privately that they know they are on their way out.

McConnell-Miller should shoulder plenty of blame in this fiasco.

She`s known for weeks that her future is not at CU. She and her agent could have sat down with CU`s administrators, hammered out an exit deal and moved on. She had her chance and it didn`t work out. Game over. She should have the maturity to accept it and do the right thing.

Instead, we hear she`s threatening legal action. She`s taking a page from the "desperation" section of the Playbook for Coaches Who Don`t Get the Job Done.

Can`t do it on the court? Take them to court. Call one of Boulder`s fineset ambulance chasers and cry foul.

Certainly, it`s not all CU`s fault. This could have been resolved much more easily.

But, it`s still another chapter of things gone wrong at CU -- even when they are trying to do the right thing.