Administrator asked for changes six years ago

Updated: March 11, 2004, 5:19 PM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- A top University of Colorado administrator had pushed for stricter policies on recruiting and behavior as far back as 1998, according to university documents released this week.

On April 23, 1998, Chancellor Richard Byyny wrote to athletic director Dick Tharp asking for a "written policy relating to the conduct of all student-athletes." He asked for a "zero-tolerance" rule for serious violations and said the policy "should recognize the responsibility of the coaching staffs who are directly involved in the recruitment, training and education of the student athletes."

That June, Byyny also directed Tharp to put into writing prohibitions on the use of alcohol in recruiting activities, including those held off campus. A month later, Tharp sent a note to all coaches saying they have a responsibility to convey CU's behavioral expectations to players.

"As highly visible young people who are constantly under the scrutiny of many entities, including the university, the public and the media, we cannot afford for any one student-athlete to make a mistake or make a decision that will damage the reputation of the institution or our department," he wrote in a document obtained under the Colorado Open Records Act.

The university has been plunged into scandal over the past two months over the recruiting practices in its football program. Seven women have accused football athletes of rape since 1997, including three who have filed federal lawsuits against the school.

No charges have been filed, but the state attorney general is investigating as is a Board of Regents panel assigned to evaluate the culture within the athletics program.

In 1999, new football coach Gary Barnett's rule book for players included expectations of conduct, as well as a policy on drug and alcohol use and information about date rape. "Never initiate sexual intercourse if the woman is intoxicated or passed out," it said.

In April 2002, Byyny directed Tharp and Barnett to improve recruiting practices. He asked that they notify recruits and their parents in writing about behavior expectations, impose "strict curfews" and increase adult supervision, among other things.

The letter came four months after Lisa Simpson said she was raped by players and recruits at an off-campus party.

In June 2002, the chancellor again conveyed concerns to Tharp.

"I have been deeply troubled by some of the incidents of the past year," Byyny wrote. The letter did not elaborate, but he said, "I am charging you ... to make the necessary improvements in the department before the start of the fall semester."

He asked coaches and administrators to develop a "sexual assault prevention program." That fall, recruiting policies were tightened to include a 1 a.m. curfew for prospective players and Tharp proposed a new position, a "life skills coordinator."

Justina Boyd was hired for the job in 2003. She is responsible for helping student-athletes and others with the transition to college and covers issues including sexual harassment, alcohol, community service and study skills.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press