CU basketball faces sexual harassment charges

Updated: May 10, 2006, 11:38 PM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- University of Colorado officials are investigating an allegation of sexual harassment involving a former employee of the men's basketball program, the school confirmed Wednesday.

University officials did not release details, but said the investigation, which began in March, includes an inquiry into whether there also was a failure to report it.

Athletic director Mike Bohn told The Associated Press he could not comment. The investigation was being handled by the school's Office of Discrimination and Harassment, which said it was also investigating a racial harassment allegation.

The school didn't release details of the racial allegation, but Calvin Williams, who is transferring to another school, told the Daily Camera that coach Ricardo Patton once tried to motivate his team by implying that darker-skinned players were tougher.

"Back in his day light-skinned players were considered soft," Williams, who is black, told the Camera. "It didn't need to be said really. I think it was just his way of motivating guys."

Patton said he was addressing senior forward Chris Copeland at the time and there was nothing inappropriate about his remarks.

"What actually happened was two black men -- an older black man and a younger black man -- talking about our history.

"I simply said that years ago that was what was perceived -- that dark-skinned blacks were tougher than light-skinned blacks. I was simply talking to him about history, and I will never apologize for trying to educate my players," he told the Camera.

Patton did not immediately reply to an e-mail request for comment sent after hours by The Associated Press.

The men's basketball program is the second major sport at the school to be slapped with allegations involving players or staff. A federal lawsuit filed by two women who claimed they were sexually assaulted at an off-campus party in 2001 opened an investigation into the school's football program that erupted into a football recruiting scandal that led to the resignations of several CU officials over allegations that the football program used sex and alcohol to entice top recruits.

Since early 2002, the school has seen the resignations of President Betsy Hoffman, Boulder campus Chancellor Richard Byyny, athletic director Dick Tharp and football coach Gary Barnett.

A grand jury investigation resulted in only one indictment in which a former football recruiting aide pleaded guilty to charges of soliciting a prostitute and official misconduct.

A separate investigation backed by the CU Board of Regents concluded that drugs, alcohol and sex were used to lure blue-chip recruits to Boulder but said none of the activity was knowingly sanctioned by university officials.

The school responded by overhauling oversight of the athletics department and putting some of the most stringent policies in place for any football recruiting program.

The Daily Camera of Boulder first reported the basketball program allegation Wednesday.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press