Coach sought advice in message to AD

Updated: May 2, 2004, 10:26 PM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- University of Colorado football coach Gary Barnett sent his boss an e-mail asking "how aggressive shoould I be re; katie .... sexual conquests by her etc." after former player Katie Hnida said she had been raped by a teammate.

Barnett's e-mail to athletic director Richard Tharp was among hundreds of pages of documents released Friday by an independent commission investigating recruiting practices at the university.

Barnett's lawyer said he had no comment. University spokeswoman Michele Ames also declined comment.

Barnett's e-mail is dated Feb. 17, the day that Sports Illustrated published a story quoting Hnida, a kicker, as saying she was raped by another CU player in 2000.

That was also the day Barnett told reporters, "It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful. ... Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it."

Barnett was suspended the next day for those comments and others attributed to him about another woman who said she was raped by a CU player. Barnett said his comments about Hnida were misinterpreted or taken out of context.

When he appeared before the independent commission this month, Barnett again said Hnida was a bad player, but added, "I didn't care how awful she was, I wanted her on the team." He said he hoped Hnida's presence would help male players learn more about women and teach them watch their behavior.

University President Betsy Hoffman has said she expects to decide next month whether Barnett will be reinstated.

Hnida, who now attends the University of New Mexico, had no comment Friday, said Greg Remington, a university spokesman.

Kathy Redmond, founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes, said the e-mail was "disturbing and disgusting."

"This is the rape culture I'm talking about. The victim smearing," she said. "If you send something of that nature to an athletic director, there is no possible way they could claim they were ignorant to any of these allegations."

The independent commission, established by the school's Board of Regents, is investigating allegations that the football program uses sex and alcohol to recruit promising athletes.

The panel has a May 14 deadline to report its findings. It received the e-mails and other documents Thursday.

"There's a sense of frustration that time is running short for the commission, but there still seems to be a lot of pertinent information that needs to be reviewed," spokesman Evan Dryer said.

Some e-mails released Friday supported Barnett, including one from former Northwestern athletic director Rick Taylor to Tharp. Barnett coached at Northwestern before moving to Colorado.

"I just viewed the ESPN piece on recruiting at Colorado and found it to be blatantly unfair to both the University and Gary Barnett. If there is any one I can talk to regarding Gary's conduct in recruiting while he was at Northwestern, I would be pleased to do so," Taylor wrote.

At least eight women since 1997 have accused players and recruits of rape, but no charges have been filed. The university has been sued in federal court by three of the women, who say it fostered a hostile environment in violation of federal law guaranteeing equal access to education.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press