Secretary says she didn't pass on message

Updated: June 30, 2004, 11:47 AM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- A prosecutor says she is confident the University of Colorado football coach received her warnings to clean up the program's recruiting, even though the coach's former secretary said she never relayed one of those warnings to him.

The former secretary, Jan Ankney, said in deposition that she never told coach Gary Barnett of the prosecutor's admonition that the football program should steer clear of using alcohol and sex as recruiting lures.

But Mary Keenan, now the Boulder County district attorney, said Tuesday she had also warned other university officials, who told her that Barnett was given her message.

Ankney gave the deposition, released Monday, in connection with a lawsuit filed against the university by female students who alleged they were sexually assaulted at a recruiting party in 2001.

The lawsuit triggered a scandal around the football program, including allegations that sex, alcohol and strippers were used to recruit promising athletes. No charges have been filed, but a grand jury is looking into allegations that a former recruiting aide paid $2,000 to an escort service.

The aide, Nathan Maxcey, has said any sexual liaisons were for him.

An independent commission concluded that university officials did not sanction the use of sex and alcohol in recruiting but did not supervise the program closely enough.

In her deposition, Ankney said Keenan, her roommate and close friend at the time, had asked her to make sure Barnett knew about problems with the program.

Keenan told The Associated Press that Ankney's deposition has little bearing on whether Barnett knew about the warning.

"This would be just another attempt to make sure he knew," said Keenan, who was an assistant district attorney when she asked Ankney to pass on the warning.

She said Robert Chichester, Colorado's former senior associate athletic director, has said in a sworn statement that he discussed Keenan's concerns with Barnett on numerous occasions.

Keenan has said she also met with Chancellor Richard Byyny and Athletic Director Dick Tharp on Feb. 18, 1998, to discuss her concerns about an alleged sexual assault by two football players at a party in a Boulder hotel room in 1997.

Keenan said she warned them to make certain there was no repeat, though no charges were filed in the 1997 case.

Ankney said she did not deliver the warning because "I didn't feel comfortable telling him. ... I thought about [it] several times, and I never could find the proper time, and I never felt comfortable bringing it up."

Ankney said in her deposition that she lied to Keenan twice about passing on the warning to Barnett because she did not want to disappoint her.

Ankney also said she had twice talked with Barnett about comments Keenan had made about him, and Barnett once asked her to intercede with Keenan. She did not elaborate.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press