Colorado footing large bill for probe

Updated: June 30, 2004, 11:45 AM ET
Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. -- The University of Colorado has racked up $813,416 in expenses relating to investigations into its football recruiting program.

The investigations were launched after the release in January of a deposition in which Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan said she believed CU used sex and alcohol to help recruit promising athletes.

Her deposition was part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges she was raped at a 2001 party attended by football players and recruits.

CU leaders have long said the athletic department would pay costs of investigations into the allegations with non-taxpayer dollars, but some regents at a meeting Tuesday suggested tapping funds from the Boulder campus chancellor's office.

"This has been identified as a cultural problem, so to ask athletics to bear the entire cost seems inappropriate," Regent Jim Martin said.

Boulder campus officials said other programs will go unfunded if the chancellor pays bills for the investigation.

Regent Jerry Rutledge, a close friend of football coach Gary Barnett, questioned how the athletic department would pay the costs considering it faces a 3.5 percent budget cut in 2004-05. The department budget was $36.5 million this year.

The expenses include $170,770 for an internal investigation, $247,174 for communications help, $256,498 for an outside investigative commission appointed by regents, $100,065 for a temporary athletics liaison and $13,440 for CU President Betsy Hoffman to travel to Washington to testify at a congressional hearing.

Regent Gail Schwartz said the athletic department should pay the costs. "These obviously were athletic department issues and shortcomings. They bear responsibility for the reforms and the costs," she said.

Nine women have alleged they were raped by CU football players or recruits since 1997. No charges have been filed. Three of the women have filed lawsuits against the university alleging violations of federal Title IX laws, which bar discrimination in education.

This spring Hoffman announced strict changes in recruiting rules and tightened oversight of the athletic department. The changes take effect Thursday.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press