BOULDER, Colo. -- A student video made in 2001 shows
Colorado football players saying their coaches encouraged them to
cultivate relationships with police for special treatment, a Denver
television station reported.
The videotaped interviews were conducted by then-journalism
student Billi Hazle for a class project.
"It's all about who you know. I think that's what coach (Gary)
Barnett is trying to come to," former player Brandon Drumm says in
the interview, which aired Thursday night on Denver station
Drumm, a starting fullback at the time, told Hazle their coaches
encouraged them to ride with officers on patrol.
Another former player, Jake Jones, explained that players tried
to get to know officers by going on "ride-alongs'' with them in
case they ran into them later.
"If we get in an argument or something, the cop will come, he
might believe you more, give you a break, cause like, he'll believe
you, he's met you before," Jones said on the tape.
Former player Albus Brooks gave a similar account. "You do
build relationships with cops, so maybe if you get pulled over,
it's like, 'Oh, what's up?''' Brooks said, explaining how a
conversation with an officer might go.
Hazle said Friday that she had worked at KUSA as an intern and
decided to give it the story this week. After it was made in 2001,
it had been shown on NewsTeam Boulder, a program on a public-access
cable station. It won a regional student Emmy award.
"The perception for all six players was, you do 'ride-alongs,'
become friends with the police officers, then they will look the
other way before you get in trouble," said Hazle, who is now a
page for the Colorado Legislature.
Athletic director Dick Tharp denied the athletes' allegations.
"I can't explain to you why those statements were made or what
context they would have been in, but I'm confident our coaches
never convey the impression you're going to get special
treatment," Tharp said.
Police Chief Mark Beckner said all kinds of people participate
in ride-alongs, and they don't result in special privileges.
The university's football program is at the center of a scandal
that includes allegations of rape and accusations that athletic
recruits were lured to the Boulder school with sex and alcohol.
Three women have filed lawsuits contending the university
fostered an environment that led to their rape by football athletes
at or after a 2001 off-campus party. Also, Barnett was suspended
for criticizing a female former player who alleges a teammate raped
her, saying the woman was ``not only a girl'' but a "terrible"
Barnett has apologized for his comments, which he said were
taken out of context and misinterpreted.