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
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.