Gary Barnett's tumultuous stay at Colorado ended yesterday when the coach reluctantly stepped down, accepting a $3 million payment to sever a tenure riddled by off-the-field problems and finally done in by bad results on the field.

In a news conference in Boulder he wanted to be a part of, Barnett said he was forced to step down by Athletic Director Mike Bohn.

"I didn't resign my position -- but I wholeheartedly respect the responsibility and decisions leaders have to make," Barnett said.

Barnett, who finished 49-38 in seven seasons at CU, pointed to a resume that includes a Big 12 Conference championship, four Big 12 North titles and two AP Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.

"I would deem that a success. Other people might not," he said.

The new athletic director said he couldn't pin his decision to part ways with Barnett on a single reason. He insisted that to say he made it because of the team's current three-game losing streak, during which Colorado has been outscored 130-22, "would be erroneous."

As recently as last month, Barnett said he had felt secure about his future with the Buffs. He had been talking about a contract extension. A 70-3 loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game last Saturday ended all that talk and essentially sealed his fate.

"It's pretty simple. We lost," he said.

He said he was leaning toward not coaching CU against Clemson in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 27, but didn't want to make an emotional decision. Bohn interpreted that as meaning Barnett wouldn't be on the sideline and said he'll soon choose an assistant to lead the team.

Barnett was brought to Colorado, ironically, to help spruce up the image of a program that had earned something of a renegade status under Rick Neuheisel.

At first, Barnett was successful. By the end, he found himself in the center of a sordid recruiting scandal, which resulted in an investigation that concluded drugs, alcohol and sex were used to entice recruits to the Boulder campus, though none of practices were sanctioned by university officials.

-- From News Services