Anthoney Hill gets it. The former CSU Rams quarterback understands current players sticking up for their coaches and staff. He was in their shoes once. He’d have done the same.
“People can try to pretend like they’re OK with what’s going on over there, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Hill, the ex-Rams quarterback, assistant coach and staffer, told The Post on Saturday. “I’m not the only guy that had something to say. And most importantly, I’m not lying.
“People on the inside know. And I get it. I understand the players’ position on this because they want to play.”
Hill responded to a CSU players’ statement released Saturday that indirectly accused him of “having an ax to grind” after correspondence between himself and athletic director Joe Parker were revealed in an ESPN report Friday.
The report included passages of a letter from earlier this year in which Hill, CSU’s starting quarterback from 1992-94, alleged a “toxic” culture within new coach Steve Addazio’s program and “racially insensitive comments (made) to black players on your watch.”
Concerns over culture and of Parker’s handling of department personalities, most notably former CSU men’s basketball coach Larry Eustachy, were also raised by Rams mental health counselor Jimmy Stewart in a report published Saturday by the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
While that report’s accusations of racist comments by former football coach Mike Bobo were refuted by at least one former CSU football player, the player said of Stewart, “Jimmy’s the real deal. Jimmy sees it all.”
Hill, who was CSU’s director of player development and community/alumni relations until being let go in January, said Saturday that his concerns are shared by current CSU staffers and former players, especially those of African American descent. And that Parker is the root of those cultural faults.
“It’s all cultural,” Hill said. “And if the culture is not in a good place, then your results are going be spotty, in my opinion.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to be heard. I’m not doing anything that I didn’t tell Joe Parker I was going to do. And most importantly, he did all this. He set it all in motion.”
Hill said he’s been taken aback by a number of Parker’s decisions, including the fact that he had been notified of his termination by CSU’s athletic director initially and not by Addazio, who was hired to replace Bobo last December.
“That’s weird. That doesn’t happen,” Hill recalled. “(Parker) said, ‘I’m not a fit at CSU,’ which floored me. Because if I’m not a fit at CSU, I don’t know who is.”
The former Rams quarterback said he was offered an athletic academic advisor position by Parker for less money. A correspondence provided to The Post by CSU athletics confirms an offer Jan. 17 with an initial salary of $48,000 that was increased to $53,300.
Hill said he found the position and the salary insulting, and preferred an on-field role, a reaction that is reflected in correspondences from Parker to Hill earlier this year.
In a March 2 letter from Parker to Hill, the athletic director wrote that his “intention was to make sure you were retained in a position at CSU. The suggestion that I was trying to ‘sabotage’ you (is) simply not true.”
Hill said Parker was attempting to cast him as overly emotional in response to the new role, “trying to make it feel like I was out of control, or basically that he didn’t know what I would do, so he went that route. He knew what it was. And so here we are.”
Adding to the confusion and frustration for Rams alums in recent days is the fact that some — but not all — CSU football players vehemently deny accusations that have brought national media attention to the program.
The current Rams released a collective statement Saturday morning denouncing recent allegations levied against Addazio and his staff, describing charges of racism and verbal abuse as “patently untrue.”
“To the contrary,” it continued, “our experience since Coach Addazio’s first day has been positive, welcoming and focused on our development as student athletes. To be absolutely clear, we have not experienced any racially insensitive comments to our teammates from the athletic department or coaching staff.”
The statement was released in response to two independent investigations launched against the Rams football program by the university. The first, announced late Tuesday by university president Joyce McConnell, was in response to charges by anonymous student-athletes and athletic staffers that Addazio and his assistants were not following COVID-19 protocols. The allegations were levied by those sources in a story published Tuesday by the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
The spotlight on the program intensified Friday, when Parker announced that he was pausing all football activities immediately in response to allegations of “racism and verbal abuse from CSU’s athletic administration generally and in the football program specifically.”
Seniors on the CSU football program refuted those concerns during a meeting late Friday, and again during a team-wide meeting Saturday morning. Players were provided copies of a prepared statement of support for the coaching staff and encouraged to share it, and to have others share it, via social media channels with the hashtag “#CSUUnited.”
Saturday’s statement describes a spate of allegations against Addazio and the program on everything from COVID-19 protocol to race as “unfounded” from “individuals who are not associated with our current football team.
“The unfounded allegations from a disgruntled former coach and/or unnamed source is unfair, unjust and creates the exact demeaning and painful wounds that can be caused by racism.”
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know who people are,” Hill said. “They show you who they are. And Coach Addazio did immediately. And that’s not something I wanted to be around, if it’s going to be that way. I just don’t think there’s very good leadership over at my alma mater right now. And it kills me.”
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