Commission wants minutes, communication records

Updated: May 6, 2004, 10:44 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The fund-raising arm of the University of Colorado on Thursday refused to turn over some internal documents requested by the independent commission investigating a sports recruiting scandal.

The commission asked for meeting minutes and communication records from the University of Colorado Foundation, which raises and manages private donations for the university.

"One wonders whether the foundation has something to hide," commission co-chair Peggy Lamm said.

Foundation President John DeLauro said the group "vigorously objects" to allegations that it is not cooperating.

The foundation has already turned over detailed financial records, and the new request covers internal documents that the foundation does not release as a matter of policy, he said.

The commission is investigating allegations that the CU football program used sex and alcohol to recruit promising athletes.

It asked the foundation for meeting minutes from the foundation's audit committee and for records of communications between the committee and two foundation executives.

Commission members wanted the records because they are looking at the role of finances in athletics and athletic recruiting, commission spokesman Evan Dryer said.

"In trying to understand the bigger picture, they wanted to see all the relevant documents and the relevant sources (of money), and the foundation is one of those sources," Dryer said.

The commission does not have subpoena power and cannot force the foundation to surrender the records.

The foundation is a private organization and is not covered by open records laws. Although it is considered independent of the university, its board members include university President Elizabeth Hoffman, Chancellor Richard Byyny and a member of the CU Board of Regents, which established the investigative commission.

Hoffman and Byyny declined to comment on the records request.

DeLauro said the foundation supports the commissioners' mission, "but we are certain their most recent demands reach outside their scope of work."

He accused the commission of threatening to go public with the dispute if the foundation did not cooperate. "This now appears to be the case," he said.

"We are dismayed that the (commission) seems to have abandoned a fair and impartial posture and has resorted to threats and media pressure," he said.

The football program was plunged into scandal earlier this year as details leaked out from civil lawsuits filed against the school by three women who say they were raped by football athletes in 2001.

In one deposition, Boulder County prosecutor Mary Keenan said sex and alcohol are used to entice recruits to the Boulder campus. Five other women have also accused football athletes of rape since 1997, though no charges have been filed.

The state attorney general is also investigating the allegations.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press