After six years as the utility infielder of the Colorado athletic department, assistant athletic director Charles Johnson is leaving his post to work with one of the department's most vital partners while he mulls a political career.

Johnson, the backup quarterback of the Buffs' 1990 national championship team, is considering running as a democrat for an at-large seat on the Colorado Board of Regents in 2012.

He obviously would be a friend to the athletic department as a regent, but he said supporting athletics has little to do with his motivation to consider running.

"That's kind of in my DNA," Johnson said. "I've always been interested in governance and it's no different now. And obviously I have a passion and a love for the university."

Charles Johnson interviews Dan Hawkins during the University of Colorado game against Nebraska on Friday on Folsom Field in Boulder November 27, 2009.Photo
Charles Johnson interviews Dan Hawkins during the University of Colorado game against Nebraska on Friday on Folsom Field in Boulder November 27, 2009. Photo by Cliff Grassmick / The Camera ( Cliff Grassmick )

Johnson said he expects to make a final decision about entering the race later this year. He previously considered running for a Senate seat in the state legislature in 2010, but ultimately decided against it.

In the meantime, the former CU student body president will go to work for Learfield Communications, Inc., as a consultant. His primary job will be negotiating corporate sponsorship deals for CU athletics, something he already did at times in his time in Boulder.

Johnson said he made the decision to leave now because he didn't see opportunities arising in the future in the department for significant career development and he has become more serious about a career in politics in recent months, whether that involves serving as a regent or not.


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"One thing I've always been concerned about and I'm increasingly concerned about is how difficult it is for just middle class families to send their kids to school," Johnson said. "They can't afford it.

"I know, in part, that is a legislative issue, but it's an advocacy issue as well. I don't necessarily hear the drum being beat anywhere so that young boys and girls who may not have been born to millionaires have an opportunity to occupy a seat at the University of Colorado like I did."

Johnson was recruited to Boulder in the late 1980s from the hardscrabble streets of Detroit by former coach Bill McCartney.

Johnson later rescued his younger brother from those same streets and brought him to Boulder for his high school years and served as his guardian.

Johnson earned the most valuable player award in the 1991 Orange Bowl, in which CU won the national title, when he came off the bench to replace injured starter Darian Hagan.

Johnson has filled a variety of roles during his time at the university, including community relations, donor relations and corporate sponsorship development.

He also has served as a radio sideline reporter for football games, a color analyst for basketball games and host of the Buff Stampede coaches television show, a role he will continue to fill.