Regents accept report without much discussion

Updated: May 19, 2004, 10:05 PM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- A panel that blasted football recruiting at the University of Colorado expected a serious discussion with the school's governing board on Wednesday, but members left puzzled after what one observer called a "pep rally" for embattled administrators.

The eight-member commission delivered a 50-page report to the Board of Regents that said sex and alcohol were used to entice top recruits and that top administrators failed to monitor the football program.

Regents thanked commission members, talked about the anguish the scandal has caused, voted to accept the report and disbanded the panel. They turned the report over to university President Elizabeth Hoffman.

"I expected a plethora of questions. We got very, very few," said commission member Luis Rovira, a former Colorado Supreme Court justice.

The commission was appointed by the regents after allegations of recruiting abuses and sexual assaults and harassment by players and recruits. The panel concluded that top administrators did not condone recruiting abuses but suggested a review of whether they should keep their jobs.

Most of the talk at Wednesday's meeting focused on the regents' support for Hoffman, with some also backing Chancellor Richard Byyny, suspended football coach Gary Barnett and Athletic Director Richard Tharp, all singled out for criticism in the report.

"It seemed more like a pep rally," said Janine D'Anniballe, executive director of a Boulder rape crisis team called Moving to End Sexual Assault.

Regent Jim Martin said he was surprised by "the lack of more hard-hitting questions."

"I think the board has abdicated the rest of the decisions to the president," Martin said.

Commission members said reform should be the responsibility of both Hoffman and the regents.

"At every level, there needs to be more than delegating to make changes," said commission member Jean McAllister, an administrator with the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Commission members said the real test will be the regents' ultimate response to the report.

"I think the regents will take these considerations very seriously," said Peggy Lamm, a former legislator and commission co-chairwoman.

Hoffman said she will present a preliminary report to regents at the end of May.

University officials also must weigh the findings of a liaison hired to assess the athletics department, internal reviews and the results of state Attorney General Ken Salazar's investigation.

Also pending are lawsuits by three of the nine women who have said they were raped by football players or recruits since 1997. The federal lawsuits accuse the school of violating federal Title IX laws against gender discrimination in education.

Martin expressed little hope for the "profound changes in culture" urged by the report if the public isn't more involved.

Panel member Jacqueline St. Joan, a lawyer and former Denver judge, agreed: "I think this has to occur in a public forum," she said.

The report can help provide a road map for the university, which can become a national model for balancing athletics and academics, commission members said.

"You do have to look at the problems and name them. But that's not a response. That is just the beginning," McAllister said. "I do think what remains to be seen is whether they take the next step."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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