Those in premium seats can still drink

Updated: September 16, 2004, 9:49 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Colorado State University officials on Thursday said alcohol sales at its football stadium would be suspended until at least Feb. 1, but alcohol will still be served in premium club-level seats.

The changes come amid investigations into the alcohol-related death of a 19-year-old student and two major riots near campus this fall.

University President Larry Penley halted alcohol sales at Hughes Stadium until a task force he created to examine alcohol issues among students releases its report, due early next year.

Sodexho, the food and beverage contractor for the stadium, had last year sought changes to its liquor license to sell wine, hard liquor and beer with alcohol percentages over 3.2 percent. The change was approved for this season, but it came at an awkward time for CSU.

"The issue was becoming a major distraction, causing some in the community to question our commitment to this task force and to real reform at Colorado State," CSU spokesman Tom Milligan said. "So in taking this action to suspend beer sales of any kind, we're trying to make a clear statement that we are committed to the task force and to real change."

In a statement, Penley said: "While there are no simple solutions to this issue here or anywhere in the country, we are sincere in our desire to address the issue of substance abuse head on."

Alcohol was banned from Folsum Stadium at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996, but luxury suites and club seats are exempt.

Samantha Spady, a CSU sophomore business major from Beatrice, Neb., was found dead in a lounge at a fraternity house on Sept. 5. Police suspect drinking contributed to her death, though an official cause of death is pending.

Days after Spady's death, leaders of the Greek system adopted rules barring alcohol from sorority and fraternity houses and some parties.

Police investigating her death cited 19 men and women Wednesday night for providing alcohol to minors, police said. It was unclear whether those cited are students, but they ranged in age from 19 to 24.

No other information was immediately available.

Two weeks earlier, off-campus parties erupted into riots early Aug. 21 and 22. Police estimate crowds grew to 1,500 the first night and 600 the next night. Rioters overturned cars, uprooted signs and threw eggs, rocks and bottles.

Six people have been arrested. The university expelled seven students and disciplined 15 others.

Penley created the alcohol task force after Spady's death and named Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, a CSU graduate, to lead it. She is joined by CSU vice president for student affairs Linda Kuk and community leader Cheryl Olson, who has expertise with substance abuse issues.

Nineteen more members were announced Thursday, including student, faculty, community and police representatives and substance abuse experts.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press