Coach Barnett on paid leave



He is being reprimanded for his comments regarding an alleged rape.
DENVER (AP) -- Colorado football coach Gary Barnett's "inappropriate and insensitive" comments sparked the latest controversy to hit an already-reeling program.
Barnett was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday night over comments he made after a former player alleged she was raped by a teammate four years ago.
In a hastily called, late-night news conference Wednesday, university president Elizabeth Hoffman also said she was "utterly distressed" over comments attributed to Barnett in a 2001 police report filed by another woman who said she was raped by a football player.
Barnett, 57, will be on paid leave while an independent committee investigates a burgeoning list of allegations involving the football program, including rapes, recruiting parties featuring alcohol and sex, escort services and strip-club visits.
Barnett's view
Barnett said he disagreed with Hoffman's decision but accepted it, calling himself "a team player." He also said the police report contained some inaccuracies.
Barnett's suspension came one day after he criticized the on-field performance of former Colorado kicker Katie Hnida, who said she was raped by a teammate. The coach called her an "awful" player and said she couldn't "kick the ball through the uprights."
The "extremely inappropriate and insensitive" remarks were the main reason Barnett was put on administrative leave, Hoffman said.
"Rape is a horrific allegation and it should be taken seriously," she said.
After spending much of Wednesday commenting about Barnett's remarks, Hoffman learned police had released the report that quoted an unidentified woman saying Barnett told her he "would back his player 100 percent" if rape charges were pursued. The woman declined to file charges.
"We are utterly distressed over the information contained in that report," she said. Hoffman said she learned of the woman's rape allegation recently, but it was unclear when Barnett first knew of it.
The accusations involving the football program that have surfaced over the past three weeks stem from civil lawsuits filed by three women against the school. They said they were raped by players or recruits at or after an off-campus party in December 2001.
An adult entertainment company said CU players regularly hired strippers for recruiting parties, and the university acknowledged that an escort service was called from a cell phone that had been assigned to a former football recruiting aide.
No assault charges have been filed in those cases, but Boulder County prosecutor Mary Keenan said in a deposition for one of the lawsuits that she believes the football program uses alcohol and sex to entice recruits.
Said she was assaulted
Hnida told Sports Illustrated in a story made public Tuesday that she was assaulted in the summer of 2000 at the home of a teammate. She said she was able to escape after the telephone rang.
Asked why she didn't tell police, she said she was afraid of the player and didn't want a "media mess."
Hnida said she has been in contact with Colorado authorities but didn't expect to file charges.
Barnett later that day snapped at a reporter who asked him about her abilities. "It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful," he said. "Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it."
During a brief news conference in Boulder late Wednesday, Barnett apologized "for answering that question in a manner where I must have come across as insensitive."
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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