Colorado Announces Drastic Changes to Recruiting

The University of Colorado announced Thursday sweeping changes to its athletic recruiting policies, which now mandate that those interested in participating in University sports programs be under the strict supervision of parents or coaches throughout the process. Recruits official visits cannot be during the football season and their stay can only be one night. We also include a chronology of evolving CU recruiting rules since 1998.

The new athletic department practice further constricts current players from personally hosting recruits. Additionally, visits to bars, strip clubs and even private parties will be prohibited. The 1 a.m. curfew coaches had long said was the only such in place at the Division I level will also be moved up to 11 p.m.

Recruits also will be allowed to visit the school only during the offseason so coaches and athletes will have more time to focus on them.

The new regulations, announced by University President Betsy Hoffman Thursday morning, are the first administrative step Colorado's athletic department has taken in the wake of accusations made against the state's flagship school which alleged sexual misconduct and even rape having occurred by CU football players and potential recruits at a party in 2001.

In all, seven women have accused Colorado football players or recruits of rape since 1997, though no charges have been filed.

"As painful an experience as it may be, we view it as an opportunity to set the standard for an issue all colleges and universities must be concerned about," Hoffman said during a statement. "There's no question circumstances have thrust us into taking a national leadership role in reforming college sports recruiting. I suspect other universities will follow some of the leads we've been taking."

Asked if the strict new guidelines will hurt recruiting, school Chancellor Richard Byyny said: "It really doesn't matter. We want to have a model program."

Two investigations are currently underway to look into any potential misconduct which may have taken place in Boulder during the tenure of head football coach Gary Barnett, who was placed on paid administrative leave late last month the day after he made controversial remarks about the playing ability of former female kicker Katie Hnida, who also said during an interview with Sports Illustrated that she had been raped.

Officials with the NCAA have appointed the team it will use to investigate the incident, and sources say that their committee will fully convene once those which are currently active have concluded, most likely this spring.

A look at how CU recruiting has changed since 1998.......

Steps already taken in six years:

- In January 1998, Chancellor Byyny and Athletic Director Dick Tharp initiated a review of the athletic department's recruiting weekend guidelines.
- As a result, new guidelines were developed and distributed to all coaches in June 1998.
- The guidelines included a focus on alcohol use and abuse. For example, the guidelines prohibited the use of alcohol in recruiting activities, including during off-campus entertainment. Also in 1998, the athletic department developed a mandatory "life skills" training session for all student athletes.
- Among many other topics, this program included sessions on sexual harassment, sexual assault and alcohol issues. In 1998, the athletic department participated in campus- and community-wide efforts to develop a Sexual Assault Response Protocol.
- In May 1998, Athletic Director Tharp distributed the new protocol and the campus sexual harassment policies to all department staff and coaches. In 1999, Chancellor Richard Byyny released a statement regarding the university's alcohol policy and sexual harassment. In 1999, Coach Gary Barnett instituted a new player handbook that set behavioral standards for all football players, including hosts during recruiting visits.
- The player handbook is updated and revised each year and includes expectations concerning general conduct, team policy on drug and alcohol use, consequences of illegal misconduct, NCAA recruiting guidelines and the team's Date Rape/Social Policy.
- The handbook's section on date rape and social expectations includes the following warning: "Never initiate sexual intercourse if the woman is intoxicated or passed out. Alcohol and drugs were a factor in over 75 percent of rapes and sexually violent acts on campus. In a court of law, this will fall under rape." In 2002, with the support of Chancellor Byyny and Athletic Director Tharp, additional measures related to the recruiting process were implemented.
- For example, a 1 a.m. curfew was imposed.
- Supervision of hosts and recruits was increased.
- Student hosts must acknowledge behavioral expectations that are spelled out in writing.
- The athletic department sends letters to recruits, their parents and high school coaches outlining what is expected of them when they visit Boulder. On January 30, 2004 – Governor Bill Owens and University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman meet to discuss allegations of abuses in the University's football recruiting program.
- Joint statement by the governor and CU president Hoffman committing to getting to the bottom of these allegations.

Recent Actions:

- February 4, 2004 – The University of Colorado distributed copies of depositions from eleven individuals related to the events surrounding the December 7, 2001 party and CU's recruitment practices.
- February 5, 2004 – Board of Regents held a special meeting to approve the charge to an independent investigative committee and appoint co-chairs.
- February 7, 2004 – Coach Barnett sanctioned players for team violations.
- February 12, 2004 –Turned over information from an on-going internal audit to the Broomfield Police Department, which is investigating an escort service.
- February 16, 2004 – Board of Regents held special meeting to vote on members for the independent investigative committee.
- February 17, 2004 – Announced the appointment of a Special Assistant to report directly to the president and CU-Boulder chancellor.
- February 18, 2004 – Coach Barnett placed on administrative leave with pay.
- February 20, 20043 – Interim coach, Brian Cabral named.
- February 25, 2004 – Announce Special Assistant -- to be approved by the Board of Regents.

Ongoing and Future Actions:

- Continue to fully cooperate with the Broomfield and Boulder police departments.
- Provide frequent updates to the governor, attorney general, legislators and the press.
- Beginning in the fall, incoming students will be required to take the "My Student Body" Internet course, which deals with alcohol use and abuse.

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