Skip to comments.CU puts Barnett on leave (after "poor" response to rape allegations)
Posted on 02/19/2004 6:04:47 AM PST by mhking
University of Colorado president Betsy Hoffman put football coach Gary Barnett on paid administrative leave Wednesday night, saying she was "utterly distressed" by a police report that describes Barnett as siding "100 percent" with a player accused of rape.
She also cited comments Barnett made about former CU place-kicker Katie Hnida, another of the five women who have now alleged sexual assault by CU football players or recruits.
"Our decision was based on coach Barnett's recent remarks about former student Katie Hnida's athletic abilities," Hoffman said. "His remarks about her were extremely inappropriate and insensitive. Rape is a horrific allegation, and it should be taken seriously."
On Tuesday, after Hnida went public with the allegation she was raped, Barnett called the former CU Buffalo a "terrible" kicker who "couldn't kick the ball through the uprights."
In a statement Wednesday night, Barnett said his remarks about Hnida had been misunderstood.
"I apologize for answering that question in a manner where I must have come across as insensitive," he said. "... I am very sensitive to Katie's allegations; I want to do whatever I can to help Katie."
He said that, as a "team player," he will abide by Hoffman's decision to suspend him from actively running the football program.
Barnett also said there were "some inaccuracies" in the 2001 police report. That Boulder Police Department report stemmed from allegations from another woman who says that a player raped her in September 2001 and that Barnett told her if she pursued criminal charges he would side with the player.
CU-Boulder chancellor Richard Byyny said that Barnett never notified senior CU officials about the September 2001 rape charge and that he should have.
"He was obliged to inform us when he became aware of it," Byyny said.
Regina Cowles, president of the National Organization for Women's Boulder chapter, said she thinks CU should have fired both Barnett and athletic director Dick Tharp on Wednesday.
"It's just outrageous because I just don't know what it's going to take to get CU, the administration's attention on this. They say the words that they're taking this seriously, and I believe that they want to, but I wonder if they know how to," she said.
She said Barnett's denials of wrongdoing are "really wearing thin."
In particular, Cowles denounced Barnett's comments about Hnida.
"His comments about Katie Hnida were malicious victim-bashing," she said. "And it is really revolting to me to hear him say that these comments were taken out of context when they have been played back on tape dozens of times."
In those comments, Barnett said: "It was obvious that Katie was not very good. She was awful. You know what guys do - they respect your ability. Katie was a girl, and not only was she a girl, she was terrible. There's no other way to say it. She couldn't kick the ball through the uprights."
Barnett will remain on paid leave until April 30, the date that an independent panel convened by the CU Board of Regents this week is expected to finish an inquiry into the football team's recruiting practices, Hoffman said.
Tharp said in a statement that he also was disturbed by Barnett's criticisms of Hnida.
It has not yet been determined how the football team will be run between now and April 30, he said.
"In the coming days, I will meet with ... Barnett and members of the coaching staff and the football team to jointly develop a plan for moving forward during this period," he said.
Hoffman said her announcement, which was made at 10 p.m. Wednesday, was not easy to make.
"We did not act in haste, we will not act in haste in the future, but we believe we've done the right thing," she said.
Gov. Bill Owens praised Hoffman for taking action.
"In view of the serious allegations concerning the CU football program, the action taken this evening by president Hoffman is both appropriate and necessary," he said.
The woman whose allegation became public Wednesday evening told police in October 2001 that Barnett responded to her complaint by saying "that he would back his player 100 percent if she took this forward in the criminal process," according to a 16-page Boulder Police Department account of the incident.
The department blacked out the name of the player and the name of the alleged victim from the report.
The report said that police closed the case because the woman wanted "to wait and see" if Barnett made good on his promise to take care of the problem.
Barnett's suspension comes exactly three weeks after depositions taken in the federal lawsuit of a woman suing the school were released.
That woman, Lisa Simpson, alleges she was gang-raped at a party at her off-campus apartment in Boulder attended by football players and recruits Dec. 7, 2001. Since she filed her federal lawsuit in 2002, two other women have filed similar suits.
All three are suing under Title IX, the federal law against gender discrimination in federally funded schools.
The three women allege that CU athletic department officials like Barnett and Tharp have known that football recruits were being entertained in ways that could lead to sexual assault but failed to stop the practice.
Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan, a potential witness in the lawsuit, said in her deposition that she believed CU used sex and alcohol to recruit football players.
Throughout the lawsuit, Hoffman, Byyny, Tharp, Barnett and other CU officials have denied the charge that they have either endorsed or willfully ignored the alleged mistreatment of women in the football recruiting program.
On Tuesday, Barnett told reporters that he would not resign, because he had done nothing wrong.
After the coach was put on leave Wednesday, his players said they support Barnett, who came to CU with a reputation as a disciplinarian.
Quarterback Joel Klatt stood behind Barnett after seeing the news conference on television, saying he'd "never seen coach Barnett do anything unethical."
But Klatt was not prepared to criticize Hoffman.
"I'm not going to say he's been treated unfairly," he said. "There's been some hard things to overcome. But I think the main thing people need to realize is there are no facts right now. There is no evidence. Until those things come out, it's very hard to judge him as a person first and, second, as a coach."
Russell Sprague, father of Buffs receiver Dusty Sprague, said he and his family have found Barnett and his staff to have "the utmost integrity."
Asked of his reaction to Barnett's administrative leave, Sprague replied, "I'm just sad, and the reason I'm sad, I respect the young lady and I want things to be fully investigated, but I'm sad for him because I've seen a different side. We've seen a coach who, with my son anyway, has made him accountable and made him do the right things."
On campus, some students said they also were shocked by Barnett's alleged reaction in 2001.
"If he knew about it and didn't do anything, it's almost like he's supporting it," freshman Mindy Malone said.
But junior Joey Morris said that the new report confirmed some of the allegations that have already been lodged against the football team.
"It seemed they were doing nothing about it," he said.
CU Regent Gail Schwartz said she was "sickened" by Barnett's comments about Hnida on Tuesday.
"We need to move him from that environment so we can find out exactly what is going on," she said.
Schwartz said Hoffman and Byyny are right to trust the volunteer citizens' panel to investigate the football program and clear or indict Barnett by the April 30 deadline.
"We have competent people who have good advice and good help to make a reasonable assessment," she said.
CU Regent Jim Martin, who has been outspoken about the sexual assault allegations, said "swift action" was required even before an independent investigative commission appointed by the board of regents Monday could begin its work.
Tharp also should be held accountable for what Martin described as an increasingly questionable environment fostered in the football program, he said.
"It's not just Gary Barnett," Martin said. "The athletic director (Tharp) is really the CEO of the athletic department, so we need to be as equally critical of his participation or lack thereof and whether he's done his job. Gary Barnett is not the only wrongdoer in this. As far as management, you have to look up the chain."
Like Hoffman, Martin was troubled by the police report made public Wednesday.
"If it's true, that's obstruction of justice. That's as bad as the act itself, and it puts a whole different light on the credibility of Gary Barnett," he said.
Keenan said that Hoffman had made the right decision.
"I'm really sad that something couldn't be done earlier. I've tried to work with people over the years to address this issue," she said.
Keenan said she had told Hoffman about the September 2001 incident two weeks ago. Notes taken during that meeting by a university staffer indicate that Barnett also threatened the job of that alleged victim, an athletic department employee.
If you want on the list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...
Was she "utterly distressed when her NOW "sisters" sided 100% with accused rapist Bill Clinton?
I mean, "No comment" would have been far, far better than verbally attacking Hnida in the media.
Was that Hidna? Anybody from CU know?
Two things - first, as "Lisa Simpson" I'm sure she catches enough crap without this happening to her.
And inviting a bunch of football players to your apartment and providing intoxicants couldn't have been real smart either. Not to blame her for what happened, but women need to be smarter about putting themselves in dangerous situations.
She transferred to New Mexico and got a chance to kick an extra point in the Las Vegas bowl.
It was blocked.
Other info on female kickers is in the article.
I hope they prosecute and imprison with maximum sentences every single player who harassed this chick. Put them all on the sex offender registry. Post their photos in whatever communities they try to live. Make their lives the same miserable hell they gleefully inflicted on others.
No, it's the obligatory FR post when any of that utterly discredited group of hard left lesbians attempts to pretend she give's a rat's patoot about rape.
It's all about the hypocrisy.
Guillermo just beat me to it.