Hnida won't talk about Colorado situation

Updated: August 26, 2004, 10:11 PM ET
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Katie Hnida's involvement in the turmoil that rocked the University of Colorado football program won't be a distraction for her teammates at New Mexico, said Lobos coach Rocky Long.

Hnida, a place-kicker, last February told Sports Illustrated she was raped by a Colorado teammate when she was a member of the Buffaloes' team in 2000. Hnida eventually left Colorado and later transferred to New Mexico.

"Our team is used to and happy to have Katie on the team," Long said Thursday. "I think she's handled herself extremely well in a tough situation and our players won't let it be a distraction."

This is Hnida's third season with the Lobos, having been granted an another year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Last year Hnida became the first woman to score in a Division I-A game when she kicked two extra points in the Lobos' 72-8 season-opening win over Texas State-San Marcos. It was her only appearance in a game last season.

On Dec. 25, 2002, Hnida became the first woman to compete in a major college game when she attempted an extra point in the Lobos' 27-13 loss to UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl. The kick was blocked.

The NCAA granted Hnida an eligibility waiver because she was unable to play for two years for medical reasons. She was out as a freshman in 1999 because of mononucleosis and missed the next season because of severe infections in her throat and tonsils that required surgery.

The NCAA said "no other outside factors were considered" in granting Hnida the waiver.

Hnida, a walk-on, is behind two other Lobo kickers on the depth chart and did not join the team's preseason practices until school started on Monday. Under NCAA rules, teams can only have 105 players in preseason camp before the start of the school year.

New Mexico associate athletics director and media relations director Greg Remington said Long and Hnida agreed she would not comment on the Colorado situation during the upcoming season.

Hnida has kept a low profile since her interview with Sports Illustrated. Remington said his office receives about a half dozen inquiries a month from media outlets seeking to interview Hnida.

"She's just not talking about it," Remington said.

Colorado coach Gary Barnett was placed on leave last February after disparaging Hnida's athletic ability. He called her a terrible player while responding to the Sports Illustrated story.

Barnett has since expressed remorse for his comments about Hnida, saying it was "an insensitive remark I wish I could take back."

While Hnida made history last season, it remains to be seen if she'll get into a game this year.

"I haven't even thought about that," Long said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press