School auditing Dear Old CU Fund

Updated: December 2, 2004, 4:01 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- University of Colorado officials planned to notify the NCAA that a football booster club may have violated two association rules when it paid at least $1,000 to each of 15 assistant coaches and athletic department staff members six years ago, according to a published report.

CU rape-prevention program
Teresa Wroe took over the University of Colorado's rape-prevention program, four months after her predecessor resigned citing frustration with the campus culture in the midst of a football sex-and-recruiting scandal.

Wroe, who worked in prevention education at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault for five years, replaces Heather Sturm as coordinator of the CU Rape and Gender Education Program.

Two other sexual assault experts have left posts at CU since September: the director and assistant director of the Office of Victim Assistance.

A lawsuit filed by two women who accuse the university of doing too little to prevent sexual assault and harassment is scheduled to go to trial in Denver federal court on May 31. A third woman has filed a similar lawsuit. All three claimed they were raped by football players or recruits who attended an off-campus party Dec. 7, 2001.

In all, at least nine women have alleged they were raped by football players or recruits. No criminal sexual assault charges were filed following investigations by the district attorney and a statewide grand jury.

An independent investigative panel appointed by CU's regents concluded that athletic department officials were lax in their oversight of the recruiting program, which it said used sex and alcohol to entice recruits.

-- The Associated Press

The Rocky Mountain News, in a story published Thursday, said it had informed the university about the apparent infractions this week and that school administrators planned to report them to the NCAA.

"We believe at this point that this is a secondary violation -- not a major violation," said Phil DiStefano, provost of CU-Boulder, who oversees the campus athletics department. "A secondary one -- where coaches received additional benefits."

If determined to be against NCAA rules, the payments would mark the second and third potential violations by the group known as the Dear Old CU Fund. School officials said the statute of limitations on the grants has expired.

The nonprofit organization, which gave more than $140,000 to summer football camps run by CU's current and former head football coaches, said in a 1998 tax filing that it provided "economic incentives to the various coaching staffs at the University of Colorado in the form of salary supplements, grants and other similar economic benefits so as to attract and retain the members of the football coaching staff."

CU administrators consulted with officials from the Big 12 Conference earlier this week and determined the payments may have violated a pair of NCAA rules.

The tax filing indicated the Dear Old CU Fund had awarded $20,000 in grants to the staff of former coach Rick Neuheisel: $4,000 for the director of sports medicine, $3,000 for the linebackers coach, and $1,000 apiece to 13 athletics department staff.

Association rules bar outside groups such as the booster club from paying coaches' salaries or supplementing coaches' income. Such payments are allowed in certain circumstances to recognize a "specific and extraordinary achievement," for example, winning a bowl game.

Two people listed by the group as recipients of the grants told the newspaper they never received money from the fund. Former CU director of sports video Bill Wong said he'd never heard of the Dear Old CU Fund. Former assistant Karl Dorrell, now the head coach at UCLA, was paid $1,000 for working at a football camp, but his spokesman said the money came directly from Neuheisel.

CU administrators plan to take a closer look at the payments as part of an audit, then report them to the NCAA after the audit is completed, DiStefano said.

The university has already reported a minor violation related to the group -- a donation to the athletics department for equipment in May 2004.

Officials said that should have triggered an audit of the booster club.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press