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More than half-dozen give testimony

DENVER -- More than a half-dozen University of Colorado
football players appeared Friday before a grand jury investigating
the program's sordid recruiting scandal.

The probe is the first indication criminal charges may be filed
in a scandal that has already led to sweeping changes in the
football program and a scathing review of university leadership.
The grand jury has met twice before.

Legal experts have said they think investigators led by the
office of Attorney General Ken Salazar are trying to figure out
whether university funds were misused. Salazar's office has
declined to comment.

Among the eight players appearing Friday were linebacker Chris
Hollis, who was suspended in February for taking a recruit to a
strip club in Boulder. None would discuss their grand jury
testimony.

"Well, we can talk about football," said cornerback Vance
Washington of Friendswood, Texas.

Also called in was Bruce Fitzgerald, a police detective in
Broomfield -- the site of a hotel often used by football recruits
visiting the campus in nearby Boulder. The hotel, the Omni
Interlocken, is at the center of allegations against former
recruiting aide Nathan Maxcey.

According to a commission that investigated the scandal, three
call girls from the Best Variety escort service said Maxcey paid
them at least $2,000 in cash over a 45-day period "and arranged
sex for other young men" at the hotel.

Former Best Variety manager Pasha Cowan, who has appeared before
the grand jury, said Maxcey hired escorts for "very athletic"
young men, presumably football players. Maxcey has repeatedly
denied the claim, saying any sexual liaisons were for him.

Tyler Polumbus, a linebacker from Englewood who was among the
players attending Friday's session, said he never saw Maxcey do
anything improper.

"Hopefully, this is the end of it, because you can only dig so
long before you cant find anything," he said.

Salazar, at the governor's request, has been investigating
whether criminal charges are warranted in the scandal, which
includes allegations of sexual assault.

Salazar has decided against filing charges in nine alleged
assaults by football players or recruits, citing evidentiary
concerns and the reluctance of the women to go forward with the
cases. The assault allegations date to at least 1997.

The Board of Regents' commission concluded university officials
did not condone any misconduct but repeatedly failed to properly
oversee the athletics department. The commission, which lacked
subpoena power, urged the attorney general to look into the
circumstances surrounding Maxcey.

Still pending in the scandal are federal lawsuits filed by three
women who say they were raped by recruits or players at or just
after an off-campus party in December 2001. Boulder County
prosecutor Mary Keenan's allegation that the school uses sex and
alcohol to entice recruits -- made in a deposition for one of the
suits -- helped spark the scandal earlier this year.

The lawsuits accuse Colorado of failing to protect the women
under federal Title IX law, which guarantees equal access to an
education. They seek unspecified damages.