Barnett: Use of Sex and Alcohol ‘Urban Legend'

His team rocked by scandal and the man himself on paid administrative leave, University of Colorado head football coach <b>Gary Barnett</b> finally had a few things to say about his situation Wednesday night. In an interview with KMGH-TV of Denver, Barnett assured CU fans that he and his embattled football program will be exonerated and that the ordeal has presented him perhaps the greatest challenge of his career.

His team rocked by scandal and the man himself on paid administrative leave, University of Colorado head football coach Gary Barnett finally had a few things to say about his situation Wednesday night.

In an interview with KMGH-TV of Denver, Barnett assured CU fans that he and his embattled football program will be exonerated and that the ordeal has presented him perhaps the greatest challenge of his career.

"It's become, in some ways, also my greatest opportunity to demonstrate leadership -- to pull our team and our school and our athletic department through this adversity that we're facing," Barnett said during the interview.

Seven women have accused Colorado football athletes of rape since 1997. No charges have been officially carried out, but three of the women have filed federal lawsuits, citing the school's failure to control its athletes as the contributing factor in numerous alleged assaults surrounding a 2001 off-campus party.

Barnett, who had been relatively quiet regarding the merit of the allegations themselves to that point finally made the bulk of his feelings heard during the interview. He centered his defense on the lack of proof either of the two ongoing investigations has yet been able to unearth concerning any of the accusations.

"There's yet to be one single piece of evidence to back up any of those allegations," he said.

Barnett went on not only to deny that neither he nor anyone on his staff had been aware of sex and alcohol used at CU recruiting parties, but also to imply that such practices aren't generally in place at Division-I programs across the country.

"It's urban legend," Barnett said of the rumors. "What I think is happening is that all the stories that have come out through the years, and I think that probably some actions of coaches around the country last year really put coaches in a tough light."

"Why would we want to use those things to recruit? Why do you want players or people who would come to your university because of those reasons? And, again, I say that realizing that already half the population out there doesn't believe what I'm saying. But it is the truth."

Barnett was suspended last month by university President Betsy Hoffman, who said she was concerned about comments he made involving two of the alleged rape cases. In them, he criticized the athletic ability of former kicker Katie Hnida after she accused a teammate of rape.

"I wish that I hadn't answered that question and hadn't answered it the way that I did," Barnett said of the question which prompted the comments.

"I also wish that everybody would hear the other 16 minutes of that tape because in the first 16 minutes, I continually talk about our concern for Katie and continuously talk about our concern that someone or anyone who might have done this needs to be brought to justice and that we need to do everything we can to do that."

Barnett refused to take a negative stand against the University during the interview, always citing the positive effects it could have on his team later down the road.

"It's still a great opportunity for me and my team, and that's the way I look at it."


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