Williams Helping Out with C-Club Drive

Alfred Williams remembers what it was like to be a 22-year-old in the final semester of school at Colorado. He'd played his last down of football in a CU uniform and was looking ahead toward life in the "real world," which for Williams meant an NFL career. It was a bewildering time.

Williams' football coaches had little time for him because, understandably, they were already focused on next year's team. And the former All-American linebacker had always been warned to stay away from former CU letterwinners, lest he break some kind of NCAA rule.

"I didn't have any support because I was told so many times, ‘Stay away from (letterwinning alumni), they could cost you your eligibility,'" Williams told BSN recently. "Then at the end of your career, you don't have these people."

Later, Williams realized fraternizing with former Colorado Buffaloes isn't against the rules. It's just when players accept gifts from alumni that they break rules.

Remembering how disorienting the end of his career was is one reason Williams, a captain on the 1990 national championship team, is involved in the current membership drive for the C-Club, the CU letterwinner group.

"The C-Club can be a bridge for those guys who leave after their last semester of school – to get back into the work environment, or help guys with professional decisions they have to make," said Williams, who played nine seasons in the NFL and lives in Boulder County. "It should be a way for a guy to be welcomed into the working stiffs of the world."

The C-Club has experienced tremendous growth recently under the direction of Bill Harris, who lettered in football at CU from 1961-63. There were 350 dues-paying members in 2001 when Harris took the reins. Last year, that number had grown to 650. By last week, the number had jumped to 954.

Asked if he thought that big increase was due to a renewed interest in CU athletics now that the so-called scandal had died down, Williams said it may have more to do with former players feeling targeted during the ordeal and rallying together as a result.

"What I found is that people have defended their university," Williams said. "We have guys working at large corporations around town being asked about things that happened on their recruiting trips. They're defending themselves more than anything else. I don't think that's right. To a man I haven't met a guy who said they went to the University of Colorado and finished up four years of athletics and didn't have a great time and took care of business on and off the field."

Harris, with the help of Frank Bernardi and Williams, is planning a pre-game C-Club party for 11 a.m. Sept. 3 between the math and science buildings on campus. (Call the C-Club at 303-492-5065 for more information).

"We think that if we get a number of former athletes at that affair, we will break that 1,000 member mark during the CU-CSU game," Harris said.

The C-Club isn't a fundraising group. ( Dues are just $35 per year, and go to fund functions the club creates.) Instead, Harris said the group's motto is "athletes helping athletes."

Williams, a native of Houston, Texas, is sponsoring the pre-game event which will feature a Houston-styled Crab boil.

"I figured this was the least I could do," he said. "Being the captain of the national championship team, I felt it was my responsibility for the guys to stay in touch with each other."

And Williams said a strong C-Club would have benefited him 15 years ago.

"If I would have had some of these people in place that Bill Harris is putting in place, it would have saved me a lot of money and helped me get out of some bad decisions early in life," he said. "Who can you trust when you're 22 – you don't know where to buy car insurance. You don't know if you paid too much for the car. You don't know where to buy a house, if you want to buy a house. You hope that you've got this career thing taken care of.

"So hopefully this group of guys can give you the mentorship that young players need. Young players need these guys more than anyone else. I think this program is building for guys that are part of the university now so that when they leave, they'll have some very good relationships with former players."

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