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Hoffman will stay course in spite of scandal

5/12/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

BOULDER, Colo. -- University of Colorado President Elizabeth
Hoffman says she was forced to "take charge" of the football
program when allegations surfaced that the school uses sex to
entice recruits.

Under questioning in April by attorneys in a federal lawsuit
filed against Colorado by alleged rape victims, Hoffman said sex is
"not part of our recruiting program."

"It is not sanctioned by the coaches," she said in a
deposition released by the school Tuesday. "It is not sanctioned
by the athletic department. It is in fact a specific violation of
recruiting rules."

Asked about abandoning recruiting altogether, Hoffman said:
"I'm not going to stop recruiting for football."

In a deposition in the same lawsuits released earlier this year,
Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan said CU used sex and
alcohol as recruiting tools. The comment helped spark the
recruiting scandal.

At least eight women have said they were raped by football
players or recruits since 1997, though no charges have been filed
in any of the cases. After a review, Colorado Attorney General Ken
Salazar this week decided against any criminal charges.

Three of the women have sued the university, saying it broke
federal gender equity law by failing to prevent their rapes in
2001.

Hoffman was also asked about an off-campus party at the heart of
the federal lawsuits. Two women say they were raped at the party
and the third said she was assaulted in a dorm room not longer
afterward.

"I was shocked that such a party had taken place," Hoffman
said. "I was shocked that there appeared to have been what I --
what seemed to be some kind of sexual orgy in a student apartment.
I was shocked by the amount of alcohol that appeared to have been
consumed. I was very concerned that recruits had been brought to
that party."

Asked whether she believed the rape allegation from one of the
women, she said: "I believe she remembers what she remembered. If
I recall, everyone at that party was quite drunk. ... And that was
everybody's testimony, including her own."

Hoffman was asked again if she believed the woman was telling
the truth.

"It's really hard to say in a situation like this, since people
believe what they believe about themselves, and other people
believe other things," Hoffman said. "I think she believes a
certain thing and other people believe something else, and that's
why we're here."

Hoffman has suspended football coach Gary Barnett over comments
he made in two of the alleged rapes and overhauled recruiting
rules. She told the lawyers the athletics department reports to
Boulder Chancellor (Richard) Byyny.

"So really until recent events, it wasn't appropriate for me
to, quote-unquote, take charge," Hoffman said. "However, when the
integrity of the university was called into question, I felt I had
to take charge."

Asked why she didn't assert control over athletics sooner, she
said: "Because I thought it was the chancellor's responsibility."

A Board of Regents panel and the university are also
investigating the recruiting allegations. A special liaison, John
DiBiaggio, was also hired to assess the athletic department at
Hoffman's request.

Hoffman, in her deposition, was asked what she would do if the
regents' panel does not make a definitive recommendation on whether
Barnett should be fired.

"I will rely on my own internal investigation, the evaluation
of Dr. DiBiaggio and any information we may get from the special
prosecutor," she said.