From North Dakota to California to Colorado to Florida, Corey Johnson’s career in athletics has literally taken him from coast to coast.
And now, with allegations of misconduct at both USF and Colorado State University beginning to surface, there may be reasons why Johnson has lived the journeyman’s life.
But it all began for the 54-year-old Johnson at a place that must seem like a million miles from USF. He was educated at small Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota After his 1971 graduation, Johnson spent the next few years bouncing around as a football coach. After coaching in high school, Johnson took positions in both the Big 10 and PAC 10 football conferences. He also served as assistant athletic director at Miami.
Then, in 1987, Long Beach State University offered Johnson his first job as an athletic director. He served at the post until 1991, when he left to pursue the position at Colorado State.
Hired in 1992, Johnson’s stay in Colorado lasted only a year. He quickly made enemies at the university after firing football coach Earle Bruce. He also removed baseball and softball as varsity sports.
Johnson was fired from Colorado State in 1993, according to The Tampa Tribune, following allegations of dishonesty and poor behavior, as well as questionable treatment of his staff.
Three years later, Johnson returned to the position of athletic director, taking a job offered by Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale. Johnson was praised for his work at Nova, where he built a fledgling NAIA athletic program. Nova began play as an NCAA Division II university this year.
In May, following his departure, a suit filed against Nova cited Johnson’s decision-making as a reason for a women’s softball coach receiving lower pay than her male counterparts.
The suit is still pending.
Johnson said last year that he served on the Orange Bowl Committee for five years, a position that allowed him to meet several key national administrators in the realm of college football.
When Lee Roy Selmon took the position as athletic director at USF in 2001, he began looking for an assistant who could handle the day-to-day administrative operations of the department. When Johnson was hired in August of that year, Selmon cited his multitude of positions nationwide as one of his strongest qualifications.
“(Johnson) brings a wide spectrum of experience in intercollegiate athletics to USF,” Selmon said in 2001. “He has been involved in major facility fund-raising and construction, and for the past six years, he has been in the state of Florida, giving him a keen sense for the intercollegiate atmosphere of our great state.”
Almost exactly a year after he began at USF, Johnson was offered the interim athletic director position at Florida Atlantic University. He turned down the offer.
And now, less than two months later, Johnson is facing allegations similar to those that forced him from the Colorado State position 10 years ago. In addition, the athletic department is being questioned for its handling of Johnson’s employment.