Authorities say professor Brian McNaughton fabricated the offer as an attempt to increase his status and salary at CSU, an idea he claimed to get from colleagues who said that former Colorado State professors had successfully done so in the past.
Dan Bush, vice provost for faculty affairs at Colorado State, and Tom Hays, professor at the University of Minnesota, determined that the letter was false through a series of emails obtained by CBS Denver. Hays said he “did not write, nor sign an offer letter to Brian McNaughton during [his] interim term (2014-2015) as Dean of College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota.” McNaughton resigned from his position and apologized for his "enormous mistake" in a letter to the dean.
Colorado State investigated the claim that other faculty had fabricated letters but found no evidence of such letters.
McNaughton’s lawyer, Erik Fischer, said that McNaughton returned the raise of $4,000 per year over four years.