AD Tharp mentioned by several

Updated: May 31, 2004, 1:07 AM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- Five of the eight members of an independent commission that investigated the football recruiting scandal at the University of Colorado said top administrators should have been fired, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The panelists told The Denver Post they stopped short of making that recommendation in their report because they wanted unanimous support.

The commission's report said university administrators did not know sex, drugs and alcohol were being used by player-hosts to entice recruits to play at the university, but their report blasted top administrators for lax oversight of the athletics department.

President Betsy Hoffman, Boulder campus Chancellor Richard Byyny, Athletics Director Richard Tharp and coach Gary Barnett were criticized in the report, which said the safety of students had been compromised. All four will keep their jobs.

"Some people need to go and the people I would point to are (Tharp and Byyny) -- the ones who have been there the longest," said Peggy Lamm, a former state legislator who served as the panel's co-chair.

Two members told the Post that personnel changes were up to the university. Another, former state legislator Joyce Lawrence, did not respond to the newspaper's polling of commission members.

Barnett, whom the report said was resistant to change, was reinstated Thursday after a three-month suspension over comments he made about two alleged assaults involving football players.

He called former CU kicker Katie Hnida an awful player as he answered questions about her claim that she was raped by a teammate in 2000. In another case, a police report quoted an unidentified woman saying Barnett told her he "would back his player 100 percent" if rape charges were pursued.

Tharp, the report said, "evaded and ignored repeated directives to implement policy changes" and maintained a facade of "plausible deniability" when it came to the actions of recruits and their hosts.

Most of the commissioners polled by the Post mentioned Tharp as one who should have been dismissed.

Some commissioners said they believe the regents created the panel to buy time and keep Gov. Bill Owens and state lawmakers from conducting their own investigation.

"My general sense is that they weren't very interested in what we said," said commissioner Jean Dubofsky, a former Colorado Supreme Court justice.

University spokeswoman Michelle Ames said Hoffman and Byyny took the report very seriously.

"But in the end, it was their job alone to decide how the University of Colorado's Boulder campus should move forward. They have taken responsibility for that decision," Ames said. "They have both said repeatedly that they realize not everyone agrees with them."

Hoffman was criticized for failing to act sooner, though she won public endorsement from the regents, who control her job. Hoffman then said she had no plans to get rid of Byyny, who has been in charge of the Boulder campus since allegations of sexual assault in the football program first surfaced in 1997. He was singled out by the commission as an ineffective manager.

Under changes announced by Hoffman, Tharp will now report to Provost Phil DiStefano, the chief academic officer, rather than Byyny, who oversees the entire campus.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press