Former Colorado coach Bill McCartney said racism was a factor in Jon Embree's firing from the Buffaloes head position after only two years on the job in Boulder.
In a radio appearance, McCartney said the school did not give Embree, who is black, the same opportunity to build up his program as his white predecessors had at Colorado and that race motivated the administration's failure to stick with Embree.
He added he personally was given more than two years to assemble the talent he needed playing for Colorado because he's white.
"Honestly, I believe it's because I'm Caucasian. I believe black men have less opportunity, shorter time if you will," McCartney told ESPN 102.3 FM listeners in a prepared letter, as quoted by the Denver Post. "It's just like, (former coach) Dan Hawkins got five full years. Why not give Jon Embree five years? You signed him to a five-year contract.
"Men of color have a more difficult road to tread. It didn't happen to me. Why should it happen to a black man?"
McCartney's remarks came one day after a choked-up Embree suggested that the only way he could have turned around Colorado's flailing program in his two years as head coach was to take shortcuts in the classroom and on the recruiting trail.
"If you just hire the next guy and say you've got two years, keep your fingers crossed," Embree said at his farewell news conference a day after being fired.
Athletic director Mike Bohn, who fired Embree with three years left on the five-year deal he signed nearly two years ago, said, "Shortcuts are not going to be an answer and we're not going to hire a coach that expects to use shortcuts."
In his letter, McCartney urged Colorado fans to protest Embree's firing and demand that the administration immediately reinstate the ousted coach.
"I heard the chancellor (Phil DiStefano) said it didn't matter what color Jon was," McCartney said. "I think that offends every person of color out there. This guy can match wits with any white guy out there. He's the real deal."
Embree, a star tight end for the Buffs in the 1980s, was fired Sunday night, 48 hours after a 42-35 loss to Utah left them without a home win for the first time since 1920.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.