Regent: Problems are not dealt with swiftly

Updated: May 14, 2004, 1:33 AM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- University of Colorado administrators have ignored problems -- especially within the athletic department -- until they were forced by a crisis to address them, a regent said.

Jim Martin, who was questioned as part of a federal lawsuit against the university, cited numerous concerns with university officials, CU's culture and even the Independent Investigative Commission regents appointed to investigate football recruiting practices.

"We don't do anything until somebody has a heart attack or ... the whole thing breaks down," he said.

He said he had concluded that the university's "whole culture is see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil."

Asked if he thought people had been dishonest, he said administrators may not have given the elected Board of Regents all the information it should have had.

"Honesty may be a little tough," he said. "Omission ... is to me just as bad as being told the wrong thing. So I think that it's, we've been spoon-fed what they wanted us to hear."

Martin was questioned under oath by attorneys for two of the three women who have alleged that CU violated gender-equity laws by fostering an atmosphere hostile to women. The three women alleged they were raped by football players or recruits at or just after an off-campus party Dec. 7, 2001.

Regents appointed the investigative panel -- which Martin called a "joke'' whose only purpose was to buy the university time -- after a deposition by Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan was made public in which she said she believed the football program used sex and alcohol to entice recruits.

The university released Martin's April 20 deposition, along with the depositions of an unidentified player and suspended football coach Gary Barnett, on Wednesday.

Martin was most critical of athletic director Dick Tharp, saying he withheld information from administrators and made key decisions unilaterally.

After Tharp replaced Bill Marolt in 1997, Martin said, the athletic department's budget has been blended with other budgets, making it difficult to obtain solid information on the department's spending.

"I think athletics has been kind of on its own, that there's been no real tough decisions asked of them," he said.

Neither Tharp nor Chancellor Richard Byyny would respond to Martin's deposition, CU spokeswoman Michele Ames said.

"We just can't comment on ongoing litigation," she said. "These are the direct product of that."

Evan Dreyer, spokesman for the Independent Investigative Commission, also declined to comment. The commission was scheduled to take a final vote Friday to approve its report to regents.

In his deposition, "Player A" said Lisa Simpson, one of the women who sued CU, was flirting with players in her apartment during the December 2001 party at the center of the lawsuit.

Simpson, who has agreed to be publicly identified, told police she had passed out after having too much to drink and woke up when her clothes were being pulled off. Player A, who said he did not drink that night, is one of several athletes who have challenged Simpson's story.

He said he recalled her aggressively flirting at the party, and then kissing and touching two men who were with her on her bed.

"She was definitely not passed out because I seen her kissing, I seen her participating with the guy on the right ... and then she was touching with the other guy on the left," he said.

He said he could not identify the two men with Simpson. Her attorney, Baine Kerr, said that hurts his credibility.

Barnett, who was suspended in February in part for making disparaging comments about Katie Hnida, a former player who alleged she was raped by one teammate and harassed by others, said Hnida was happy with her time on the team when she left CU after the 1999 season.

Barnett also said he does not believe she was physically harassed.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press