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Barnett: Even Lincoln had setbacks

3/15/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

BOULDER, Colo. -- Suspended University of Colorado football
coach Gary Barnett told recruits the investigation of alleged
sexual assaults by recruits will be a test of the team and its
resolve, calling it a "bump in the road," the Daily Camera
reported Monday.

In letters sent to recruits and team supporters, Barnett also
said the situation would help define the team's legacy.

Eleven letters dated Feb. 11, including one from now interim
head coach Brian Cabral, turned up in more than 10,000 pages of
documents made public by the university last week as a result of
media requests for correspondence involving the team.

Colorado omitted the names of people the letters were addressed to,
saying rules do not allow universities to make public information
about minors or prospective players for sports teams.

Seven women have accused Colorado football players or recruits
of rape since 1997. The school faces federal lawsuits by three
women who say they were raped at or just after a 2001 off-campus
party attended by players and recruits. Players also have been
accused of hiring strippers for recruits.

Boulder County prosecutor Mary Keenan has said she believes the
football program offered sex and alcohol to lure recruits to
Boulder, a claim university officials have denied.

Barnett is on paid leave for remarks he made in connection with
two of the rape allegations, including disparaging the athletic
ability of a former player who said she was raped by a teammate in
2000.

No sexual assault charges have been filed in any of the cases.

Colorado spokeswoman Pauline Hale said the letters are probably part
of regular communication the football coaching staff has with
prospective players.

In one letter written one week before his Feb. 18 suspension, Barnett
said Abraham Lincoln suffered eight election losses, twice failed
in business and suffered a nervous breakdown before cementing his
place in history as president.

"At times like this, I find it inspiring to look back through
history and see people that have been knocked down or slipped along
their journey and fought back and experienced great triumphs,"
Barnett wrote.