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Portland State disciplines football coach Bruce Barnum
Portland State has disciplined head football coach Bruce Barnum as the result of an investigation into charges of sexual harassment.
The disciplinary action was delivered after a recent report by Julie Caron, associate vice president Global Diversity & Inclusion for the university, who led PSU's investigation.
Barnum, 53, is beginning his third season as the school's head coach after serving the previous five years as offensive coordinator. During Barnum's first season at the helm in 2015, PSU finished with a 9-3 record and he was named FCS National Coach of the Year. The Vikings were 3-8 a year ago.
The investigation began in early May 2017, when Portland State athletic director Valerie Cleary informed Caron that Barnum had been accused of conduct that may have constituted a violation of school policies.
Barnum was accused of having had an inappropriate relationship with Tara Carrillo, who worked as external events and administrator coordinator for the PSU athletic department.
In a 24-page final report delivered on July 17, Caron detailed the investigation of the relationship and concluded that "there is insufficient evidence that (Barnum) violated PSU's prohibited discrimination and harassment policy, but sufficient evidence that he violated PSU's consensual relationship policy …. appropriate disciplinary action shall be imposed for failure to report the relationship."
Chris Broderick, associate vice president/communications at PSU, said the school would normally handle the situation in-house and not comment because it is a "personnel matter." But because the Portland Tribune was reporting on the story, "we want to respond with an explanation about the situation," Broderick said.
PSU's statement: "A complaint was made several months ago about the conduct of football coach Bruce Barnum. The university investigated. The investigation did not find sexual harassment, but other policies regarding acceptable workplace conduct were violated. As a result, Coach Barnum has received significant economic sanctions by the university. Coach Barnum has received individual training on appropriate workplace conduct, and university officials also are conducting refresher training for PSU athletics staff."
Broderick would not elaborate on the financial penalties to Barnum or the coach's "individual training" on conduct in the workplace. Cleary declined to comment, referring the matter to Broderick.
Barnum also declined to discuss the matter.
"I've been advised not to talk about that," the PSU coach said. "I'm not going to break the rules of the university."
Caron concluded Barnum failed his responsibility to report to school officials his relationship with Carrillo, who has been on a paid administrative leave of absence that began in mid-April and will continue until the end of August.
Tara Carrillo declined to comment. So, too, did her attorney, Jeff Long, who was an offensive guard at Portland State during the Mouse Davis era. Long's son, Steven Long, was a running back who played for Barnum at PSU and is now at Western Oregon. Attorney Long did acknowledge the possibility of a lawsuit against the university on behalf of Carrillo.
The matter was brought to the attention of PSU athletic department officials in April by Tara's husband, Cam, a tight end at Portland State from 1996-2000 under former head coach Tim Walsh and now an insurance executive. The Careillos, who have been married for eight years, live in Tualatin with their three children.
Cam Carrillo, who learned of his wife's relationship with Barnum through text messages on her phone, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Portland State football since his time there and is said to have been instrumental in helping procure donors to the program. No longer, he says.
"I'm done with Portland State," Carrillo said. "I'm not supporting them financially. I've thrown out literally every single piece of PSU equipment I own. I feel completely betrayed by the athletic department, by the football program and by Bruce Barnum."
Last week, Carrillo posted his feelings on a Facebook page dedicated to Portland State football alumni.
It read: "Bruce Burnham (sic) has been under investigation and has been hiding his involvement and misconduct case with my wife. He is lying to everyone and is playing a victim at the University, and the Athletic department is plotting for a cover up as we speak. I will not accept people not be held accountable. The staff and the families that trust this man to be a leader and a father figure need to know the truth. My family is destroy. I loved this university and gave my heart and soul to the program since I signed with PSU. The other coaches had nothing to do with this and should not be judged in negative manner. I will say the the athletic director Valerie (Cleary) ignored my request to make sure this was handled appropriately, instead, Valerie, the Athletic Department and the University have tried to brush this under the rug. My name stands for something. I will not be disrespected any longer. I know there are people that will choose sides and support Barnum through this and I understand your loyalty. This is about what's right and wrong. He is wrong and a fraud and it's time he accepts responsibility for his part in all this. Good bye to my Portland State brothers. I will never forget the blood sweat and tears we shed together."
Carrillo took down the Facebook post after two days.
According to Caron's report, both Barnum and Tara Carrillo admitted to a relationship that included "flirtatious" text messages of a sexual nature on both sides beginning soon after Tara started her job in October 2015 through about January 2017. Carrillo also said Barnum often made sexually explicit comments to her in the athletic department office but that the two "never crossed the line" in terms of physical contact. Both said there was no sexual intercourse involved.
Barnum, who is married and has two children, told investigators 90 percent of his texts with Carrillo were about work or family. But Barnum admitted some of his texts were of a sexual nature, and that both he and Carrillo would make sexual comments in his office. Barnum said Carrillo was generally the aggressor with the comments and that he grew increasingly uncomfortable with her behavior.
Caron concluded that, while there was insufficient evidence in sexual harassment by Barnum, the nature of his interactions with Carrillo were "highly inappropriate for a person in his position. He has received university training on sexual harassment and consensual relations, and knows that engaging in such behaviors would violate (school) policy."
Additionally, Caron wrote, "he was in a position to either stop the interactions or to report his relationship to human resources and/or his supervisor as required by the (school's) consensual relationship policy. (Barnum) failed to report his relationship."