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Kicker says Colorado treated her like 'meat'

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico placekicker Katie Hnida
alleges she was a target of sexual harassment in 1999 when she was
on the football team at Colorado.

"I was treated much more like a piece of meat there," she said
in a story in The Albuquerque Tribune on Friday. "Because I'm a
pretty feminine gal, and they didn't respect that about me."

Hnida on Friday declined to speak with The Associated Press
about her time at Colorado and the allegations she raised.

"I have nothing to say," Hnida, a senior at New Mexico, said after a practice session.

Hnida told the newspaper she was "called names that are not
repeatable" many times during the 1999 season -- her final one at
Colorado.

Hnida, 22, dressed but never got into
a game during two seasons as a walk-on at Colorado. She said her
experience at her new school has been enjoyable.

"I can be as feminine as I want, but that doesn't take away
from me contributing on the field," she told the newspaper.

Hnida became the first woman to compete in a Division I-A
football game when she attempted an extra point last Dec. 25 in the
Lobos' 27-13 loss to UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl. The kick was
blocked.

Gary Barnett, who was in his first season as head coach at
Colorado when Hnida was with the Buffaloes, said Thursday he was
made aware of only one complaint.

Hnida or her father, Dave Hnida, "said she had been called an
inappropriate name," Barnett said.

"I immediately went to the accused source of that and was very
angry and very upset that he would do that sort of thing," Barnett
said.

Barnett said he gave the player a tongue-lashing and told him he
would be kicked off the team if he did it again. The player was not
identified.

Hnida would not say how many times she complained to Barnett
about mistreatment, but said: "That was certainly not the only
incident he was aware of."

"If he was not aware of anything else, then it's hard to
imagine he was blind and deaf," Hnida said. "I never got that
impression, although he and I didn't have a very open,
communicating relationship like (New Mexico coach Rocky Long) and I
do."

Barnett said Hnida and "the media fiasco" that followed her
during the season upset a number of Colorado players.

"I had to talk to players and tell them she was to be given a
fair chance and fair opportunity," Barnett said.

"We took very good care of her, but Katie struggled with her
own performance, where I don't think she ever earned the respect of
her teammates. If that prompted certain treatment, I don't know,"
he said.

Hnida "wasn't a very good kicker" and "was a distraction to
our team," Barnett said.

"So they looked at her as someone who was a novelty, a
publicity act, a sideshow," Barnett told the Rocky Mountain News.
"I never, ever wanted it to be like that."

Hnida said she was not universally accepted by her Colorado
teammates, especially one reserve quarterback.

"We'd be kicking, and he'd launch (footballs) at my head," she
said. "I'd have them whizzing by. To this day, if a football flies
by my head, sometimes I just (flinch)."

Hnida did not try out for the Buffaloes in the fall of 2000
after Barnett said he told her she would have to beat out at least
one of five kickers ahead of her.

Hnida said she didn't return for several reasons, including "an
incident during that summer" she declined to detail.

Hnida took classes at Colorado in 2000-01, then transferred to
Santa Barbara (Calif.) City College for the 2001-02 school year,
but did not play football.

Hnida, of Littleton, Colo., joined the Lobos in 2002 as a
walk-on.

"I love this program," she said of New Mexico. "I can't even
tell you what a good time I've had here. I'm surrounded by a
spectacular group of teammates, coaches, trainers, equipment,
people."

Long said he has never heard of any problems regarding Hnida and
her current teammates and she has never been a distraction.

He said Hnida might be sent into a game this season "if the
right time appears," but said, "we're not going to manufacture
anything."