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FORT COLLINS – Colorado State University has tapped a retired chancellor of the University of Tennessee who has held multiple leadership roles at CSU to lead the search for a new athletics director.

Loren Crabtree, who retired to Fort Collins, will help find a replacement for Jack Graham, the university's former athletic director who was fired late last week.

"Having spent a considerable amount of time working in the SEC with college athletics at the highest level, I believe I have some insight into what President [Tony] Frank is looking for," Crabtree said in a news release.

Representatives from CSU's faculty, staff, student body, athletic department and the Fort Collins community will also be included in the search. Membership on the committee will be finalized and announced in the coming weeks, according to a news release from the university.

Crabtree worked as the system vice president of the University of Tennessee and the chancellor of UT-Knoxville from 2001 to 2008. During his 34 years CSU, Crabtree served as provost, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a variety of other positions.

"The visibility of the university is in many circles linked to our athletic success, and so too is the reputation of the institution," Frank said.

Jack Graham, a former CSU quarterback and successful businessman, was fired after 32 months on the job. During his tenure, he was responsible for hiring a new basketball and football coach, and spearheaded an effort to raise funds for an on-campus stadium.

Graham was hired in 2011 after the firing of former AD Paul Kowalczyk. Frank hired him, in part, due to his vision for an on-campus stadium – a project that has divided the Fort Collins community.

Roughly half of the stadium's cost – or $110 million – was expected to come from private funds. The deadline for the fundraising was slated for October, but estimates from the university show that fundraising was not on track.

RELATED: 5 things to know about Jack Graham's firing

In a news release discussing Graham's firing, Frank said it was not motivated by the stadium.

In an exclusive interview with 9NEWS, however, Graham said he thought the decision was "all about the stadium."

Graham said he's "stunned" by his firing, which was based on a "termination by convenience clause" in his contract. The university is obligated to keep paying him his $260,000 annual salary in monthly installments until then.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that Graham said those payments don't matter to him, and he'll continue to donate the money the university gives him back to the athletic department. He said he's done that since he was first hired.

"There's been reference by Tony as well as by Amy Parsons that this is not about the stadium, that it's a personnel matter, and I really wish they'd stop that," Graham said. "It's an insinuation that I think is inappropriate and unfair, and I wish the university would take a high road and discontinue that kind of language."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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