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Former Buffs player is Barnett's top assistant

2/21/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado named assistant Brian Cabral the interim head coach of its beleaguered football program Friday pending an investigation into a recruiting scandal that includes allegations of player rape.

Cabral will step in for Gary Barnett, who was put on paid leave
this week after criticizing the athletic ability of a former
Colorado player who says she was raped by a teammate in 2000.

The 47-year-old Cabral said he would try to "pull this team
together" and "win back the confidence of the university, the
community, the alumni (and) former players in our program."

"I believe our players possess the character we recruited them
for," he said. "We will not just maintain but we will build this
program."

The recruiting investigation is scheduled to be completed by
April 30. Cabral made it clear he considers his job a temporary one
and that he expects Barnett to be reinstated.

"I have no doubt when all is said and all is done, we'll find
coach Barnett to be a man of character," he said.

The program is at the center of a scandal that erupted three
weeks ago with the disclosure of allegations it uses sex and
alcohol to entice recruits to Boulder. The claim was raised in
depositions for federal lawsuits filed by three women who say they
were raped by football athletes in 2001.

Since then, a player has been suspended for taking a recruit to
a strip club and a former recruiting aide admitted he used a
university phone to dial up an escort service for his personal use.

Far more damaging are the rape allegations. Six women say they were assaulted by football players or recruits, though no charges have been filed in any of the cases.

Among the alleged victims is Katie Hnida, who said this week she was raped by a Colorado teammate and was afraid to tell Barnett and others. She left Colorado after the 1999 season, later saying she
was the victim of harassment and that Barnett clearly didn't want
her on the team.

University officials have urged Hnida to file a police report
and Barnett said her rape allegation came as a surprise to him. He
said he wanted Hnida on the team, but sparked sharp criticism
responding to reporters asking why she wasn't offered a spot as a
placekicker.

He called her "awful" and "terrible," comments that resulted
in his suspension by university President Elizabeth Hoffman. She
said she was also concerned with his vow to back another player
accused of sexual assault by an athletic department employee.

"We need resolution of these charges, we need the work of the
committee to go forward and go forward promptly," athletic
director Dick Tharp said as he announced Cabral's appointment.
"Our commitment is to the students and student-athletes."

Cabral is a former Colorado player who has been an assistant for 15 years. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 1999, shortly
after Barnett was hired.

Sophomore quarterback Erik Greenberg had nothing but praise for Cabral.

"There's not a bigger Buff than coach Cabral. He has great
heart and great character," he said.

Cabral said the football program was in a "tough spot" and
that he has been asked by university officials to continue talking
with the team about sexual harassment and alcohol. He said he was
confident the team would respond.

"I talked to our team about the character they do possess," he
said.

Larry Bloom, the father of receiver Jeremy Bloom, said his
family's experience with Barnett and Colorado have been positive.

"We've always found him to be very honorable with us and very
honorable with Jeremy and a very solid guy of high integrity,"
Bloom said.