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April 30 not enough time, they say

2/21/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

DENVER -- The committee investigating the athletics scandal at Colorado is going to have to move fast.

The seven-member group won't hold its first meeting until March 2 and that will focus on organizational rules and open meeting law requirements. It has until April 30 to get to the bottom of the
allegations of sex, booze and rape surrounding the football program, not nearly enough time, according to some.

Retired Maj. Gen. Josiah Bunting, a member of the independent
panel that investigated the Air Force Academy sexual assault
scandal last year, was skeptical of the time frame.

"Their first meeting ought to be this weekend, and they should
be meeting continually," Bunting said Friday. "I found at the Air
Force Academy that we kept uncovering more things, creating more
work.

"They might be able conceivably to come up with a preliminary
report," he said.

The scandal has grown over the past month with numerous
accusations against the football program involving sexual assaults,
binge drinking and strippers. In all, six women have accused
football players or recruits of rape.

On Friday, the school appointed longtime assistant coach Brian
Cabral as the interim head football coach.

The panel, appointed this week by the Board of Regents, has been asked to determine whether "sex and alcohol are used as recruiting
tools."

The committee members will likely want to talk with a number of people, from suspended football coach Gary Barnett and athletic
director Dick Tharp to players, recruits and perhaps the alleged
victims. There are thousands of pages of depositions that could be
read.

"Anyone who volunteers for this has to be ready to drop
everything and spend a lot of time on this," panel co-chairwoman Joyce
Lawrence said earlier this month.

Asked if she was confident the work could be done, co-chairwoman
Peggy Lamm said, "We will see how it unfolds." She said committee
members wish they could speed up the process, but declined to
answer other questions.

William Erickson is a retired Colorado Supreme Court justice who led a yearlong investigation that was unable to answer key
questions surrounding the 1999 Columbine High School massacre that
left 15 dead. He said the recruiting panel will need full
cooperation from everyone.

"We were promised that for Columbine but didn't get it from the sheriff's office and they had the most important information. The
same thing could happen here," he said, noting the university
committee, like his, will not have subpoena power.

"That leaves you at the beck and call of people you want to
appear. They can just keep delaying," he said.

The committee has already had problems, with critics decrying
its lack of victims' advocates.

Lawrence was also criticized for saying she wanted to know why some of the alleged victims attended an alcohol-fueled party that
allegedly resulted in three rapes. She later said she hadn't meant
to imply the women had put themselves at risk.

Another member, a former FBI agent, resigned after it was
learned he had given a lie detector test to one of the football
players at the party. Still another member, a minister, helped
launch a Christian men's movement with former Colorado football
coach Bill McCartney.

Regent Jim Martin said he doubts the committee can do the job
and the investigation should be handed over to a grand jury.

"The Air Force Academy tried to do its own investigation but
they scrapped it and started again," Martin said. An independent
committee was appointed after critics challenged the credibility of
the initial investigations.