Copyright © 2004 Henrietta W. Hay
CU, Football, and Education
June 4, 2004
Football reigns supreme in Boulder. Well, maybe not any more. It
has a new boss, called the President of the University.
CU Athletic Director Dick Tharp still has his job, although he has been
demoted. But football Coach Gary Barnett is back facing a lot of tough
new rules and restrictions.
If you can read and have access to a newspaper, you know the outline of
the CU football mess. I shudder to think of the trees which have lost
their lives to newsprint in the past month.
The recruiting methods used at CU were undoubtedly not much different
from those used in other big football schools--offering booze, drugs
and women to High School recruits to get them to play football for
them. CU, though, was the one that got caught, thanks to nine brave
women who consider rape a crime, even when accompanied by too much
alcohol, and had the guts to say so.
There s nothing new about this, In 1997 a High School student reported
that she had been sexually assaulted by two Colorado recruits at a
party. No charges were filed.
In October last year, Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan was deposed
as a potential witness for one of the women filing suit against the
Keenan had met with officials and said in her deposition, "They
decided that they would not change anything because they could not
afford to lose the competitive edge against universities such as
Oklahoma and Nebraska." Barnett and Tharp denied it, of course, and
they still are saying they didn't know about what was going on.
In February, this year, CU president Betsy Hoffman ordered an
investigation into allegations that the football team uses sex and
alcohol to recruit high school players and it published its report last
Living over here in the toolies, I was completely naive about how the
Athletic department was operating. Reading a summary of the report
made me want to send my new "C" jacket back. I did not realize that the
Athletic department, specifically the football coaches have had their
own private little fiefdom. But that is about to come to an end.
One recommendation from the panel that especially shocked me was that
the university "decrease the percentage of football players admitted
below the index score minimum. Establish a "floor" Index score for
admission no greater than 10 percentage points less than the score for
the entire student body. ..... And set a definite goal for graduation of
football players." So the football players have been getting financial
scholarships and some of them were not even meeting basic admission
requirements. I must look up the definition of "university."
President Hoffman walked a narrow line with pressures on both sides.
While I wish she had fired Barnett and Thorp, I am glad she is keeping
her job. She has handed the athletic department a new playbook which
makes major changes. The department will be on a level with the other
departments. The Athletics Director will report to the Provost, to
whom deans and other academics report. Athletes will be integrated with
other students. Hmmmm, it seems that there have been CU students and CU
And in all the furor, in all the apologies, I have not seen the word
"rape". One woman might be lying. Two might, just might not have said
NO loud enough. But nine? None of the men have been prosecuted.
Three of the woman are suing the university, however, the suit based
on Title IX.
Maybe football's powerful reign at CU is over, and the players can get
an education and still play football.