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College sports recruiting under fire--again: CU announces strict changes to program.

In the end, the University of Colorado's citation by the Princeton Review as the nation's biggest party school may be one of its less notorious distinctions. With seven women alleging sexual assault by football players since 1997--as well as allegations of recruiting parties fueled by alcohol drugs, and the promise of sex with attractive co-eds--CU has become the poster school for all things wrong with college sports recruiting.

Adding to the seriousness of the charges, the team's former place-kicker Katie Hnida claimed she was harassed by the team and raped by a teammate. Coach Gary Barnett responded to Hnida's charges by saying, "Not only was she a girl, she was terrible." Barnett, whose $1.6 million contract makes him the highest-paid public employee in Colorado, was placed on paid administrative leave after his remark.

To date, separate investigations have been launched by local prosecutors, the state legislature, and a special panel named by the university. The panel's report is expected by the end of this month. The National Collegiate Athletics Association and the U.S. Congress have both announced they will launch investigations into national collegiate sports recruiting practices. The move is driven in part by three federal lawsuits filed against CU by female scholarship athletes who say they were told to show up at the off-campus parties and act, essentially, as "recruiting tools." The Lawsuits were filed under Title IX, the Landmark Legislation meant to protect women from discrimination in college athletics.

On March 4, university President Elizabeth Hoffman, who initially drew heavy criticism for her handling of the crisis, announced strict rule changes that will substantially alter the way the school recruits athletes. Beginning next season, Hoffman said, recruiting trips will be limited to an off-season, one-night stay. Prospective players will face an 11 p.m. curfew and be forbidden to attend any off-campus party. In addition, recruits will no longer be matched with players, but will be supervised and chaperoned by coaches and parents.

Hoffman said the changes would go into effect before the university's special panel concluded its work. "Quite frankly, given the nature of the serious allegations, we felt it was important to go ahead and announce what we felt was the right thing to do," she said.
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Title Annotation:Update
Publication:University Business
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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