Bruce Plasket Interview, Part II

As a writer for the Daily Times-Call in Longmont, Bruce Plasket reported on the so-called recruiting scandal that rocked the CU football program last year. Plasket was granted behind-the-scenes access to the team during the 2004 season. Plasket is writing a book about what he observed the past year, tentatively titled "Three Hours on Saturday." Inside, Part II of a three-part interview with the journalist, where he talks about the role race played in the overall story last year.

Bruce Plasket Interview, Part I

As a metro bureau reporter for the (Longmont) Daily Times-Call, Plasket covered the lawsuit brought on the University of Colorado by Lisa Simpson in 2002. Later, the suit was joineded by Anne Gilmore. Both plaintiffs claim they were raped at a party in Dec. 7, 2001, attended by CU student-athletes and football recruits.

On Feb. 27, 2004, the Daily Times-Call published Plasket's story (linked at bottom of page) that revealed the connection made between a PR firm hired by the plaintiff's lawyers and the local media which was driving the so-called recruiting scandal coverage by local news outlets.

Eventually, part of the overall so-called recruiting scandal story included the allegations of rape by an unnamed woman in Boulder by two "large black men." Boulder law enforcement officials eventually sought DNA samples from two CU football players, who had become suspects in the case for dubious reasons.

In this second part of a three-part interview with Plasket, he talks about the role race played in the so-called scandal story last year, and the role of race on the CU football team.

Buffalo Sports News: Sometime last year when a woman alleged she was raped after drinking at a bar on The Hill, she said two black men walked her home and that's the last thing she remembered. Two CU football players became suspects, but were later exonerated through DNA samples.
Bruce Plasket:
The sequence on that was, a woman said she went home with two large black men. She believed that they probably drugged her and took advantage of her. When she reported that, the police went to the bar, and I believe the bartender said that it was two large black men and, maybe or probably football players. And two players were dragged in.

One of those players, Akarika Dawn, hired an attorney, held a press conference and had to go on television and tell people that his DNA didn't match.

BSN: What always struck me about that was, I remember the press conference and the obligatory stories afterwards, but it never got the play of other parts of this story.
Plasket:
It never got the play, and there was never any critical questioning. People were questioning CU 24/7 — and there's nothing wrong with that. That's what you're supposed to do. But they weren't banging on anyone or anything else.

Ron Monteilh, he was charged with a felony because he was erroneously identified in a photo by a recruit who had never met him.

(Four CU student-athletes — all African-American —were charged with providing drugs and alcohol to minors at the Dec. 7, 2001, party from which the Simpson/Gilmore suit arose. Even though court depositions indicate female CU students hosted the party and actually provided/served alcohol, none were ever charged with a crime.)

Obviously (the recruit) wanted to point at a couple of pictures to save his own hide, and was just interested in placating these cops.

But anyway, he mistakenly picked Ronnie's picture out. So on that evidence alone — no eyewitnesses – Ron Monteilh was charged with a felony.

His mother hired a lawyer — is (Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan going to pay for that lawyer? Mary Keenan later dropped (Monteilh's part in) that case because they had eyewitnesses showing that Ronnie, not only didn't do anything, but he was innocent because he wasn't there.

How much play did that get? How much play did the fact that Akarika Dawn and another player (also cleared of sexual assault via DNA testing) were stereotyped, rounded up as the usual suspects, because they were black and because they were large, for the rape of a white woman.

This sounds like Montgomery, Ala., in 1962. It doesn't sound like the most liberal town in America to me. I have a big problem with that.

There was no outcry and no sympathy for Akarika and the other player. And what about Ronnie Monteilh? His mother, that woman was so steadfast that everything would work out. She's a very religious lady. But I don't even want to think about what she went through, or what it cost her. And what did it cost her son?

There was a great little scene at the Kansas State game where Ronnie scored a touchdown in the last 30 seconds to win the game. His mom is in the stands screaming and crying and calling people on her cell phone. What a great scene. I'm thinking, nobody deserved that more than Ronnie's mom – to see him do that in that game.

So these kids, I guess their only redemption is to go out and play well. The way to prove that you're not a rapist is to win the Big 12. Those are two different issues. But that's one of the things that kept these kids going this year. They shoveled a lot of shit against the tide. Believe me, there were all kind of challenges and there were times when things looked really, really, really tough.

After they lost that A&M game, I thought, well, I won't hold it against them if this breaks their back and they don't do anything the rest of the year. I didn't know how they would recuperate from that. And they did.

But my point is these kids — the stuff they carried around, and the class with which they carried it around — I don't know how on the Missouri sidelines those (CU players) kept from going in the stands. I don't know how, on the Kansas sidelines, those kids didn't go into the stands. The most vile despicable stuff (was said).

BSN: One of your stories from this past fall was titled "Buffs See No Colors." Tell me about that story.

Buffs See No Colors story link

Plasket: Well, I wanted to take a week and write about race, or lack of it, on that team. It seemed like on teams, even where the kids get along, or whatever, the white kids hang out with the white kids, the black kids hang out with the black kids. There's a certain separatism to it, that I'm not saying is racist, it's just cultural.

These kids, when they sat down to eat, they sat with the players that play their position. The D-linemen sit together, the D-backs, the quarterbacks sit together, etc. So they didn't sit by race, they sat by position. I found that really interesting.

Kids like Matt McChesney, Ron Monteilh, Jesse (Wallace) and Sam Wilder (all seniors, different ethnicities), that group of kids hung out together every weekend. That was who were their immediate friends. I'd never seen that before, and I was just really impressed.

As I wrote in that article, about 11.6 percent of the African-American population at CU-Boulder is on the football team. They make up 11.6 percent of that whopping 1.6 percent black population at CU-Boulder. That's like James Meredith and two other guys. You've got to be kidding me. Under 2 percent at the most progressive university in America? That sounds like the University of Mississippi about 35 years ago.

After covering the so-called recruiting scandal story last spring and summer, Plasket was granted exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the CU football team this past fall, and wrote about it weekly in a series titled "Third and Long." He is currently writing a book, tentatively titled "Three Hours on Saturday," about what he observed the past year. In Part III of the Plasket interview, published Wednesday, Plasket talks about how he was granted access to the team, and about his experience going behind the scenes.

Feb. 27 Times-Call story link


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