Tuesday, March 01, 2005

CU or PeeYeeww?

That stench you smell is emanating from the University of Colorado. CU has been under siege throughout the last year due to two very public and infamous incidents; the Gary Barnet recruiting fiasco and the Ward Churchill episode. And at the root of it all may be the CU Board of Regents and University President Betsy Hoffman.

A brief rundown of the sordid state of affairs at Colorado’s largest university system:

Ward Churchill--

The now infamous “When Chickens Come Home to Roost” essay in which Churchill compared 9-11 victims in the World Trade Center towers to Adolph Eichman started the ball rolling.

Now the Cherokee nation says they have no record of Churchill’s registration for Native American status and dispute his claims of being part Indian. His status as part of the Keetoowah Band was strictly honorary and required no proof of Native American heritage.

Churchill allegedly lied to CU about his Indian heritage in order to procure his job in the ethnic studies department.

Allegedly copied several paintings and passed them off as his work and sold hundreds of copies of the works, an offense that would amount to copyright violation.

Two different departments at CU refused to give Churchill tenure before the communications department reluctantly acquiesced. Seems the university was fearful of losing the now embattled professor.

Gary Barnett & the CU football program--

Accusations of rampant recruiting violations which include solicitation of sex, providing minors with alcohol, and sex parties for recruits.

Several players and coaches have been accused of sexual misconduct ranging from sex with female trainers, sexual assault and harassment, and allegations of at least half a dozen rapes involving players and coaches. Katie Hnida publicly alleged being sexually assaulted by a team mate.

A civil suit filed in Federal District court alleging sexual assault on the part of an assistant coach goes to trial later in March.

Recruiting assistant Nathan Maxcey has been indicted for soliciting prostitutes allegedly in connection with several rendezvous set up for recruits at local hotels.

And now the grand jury investigation regarding CU has been leaked. It contains some fairly disturbing accusations (the following is from The Rockey Mountain News, March 1, 2005, by Todd Hartman & Kevin Vaughan and from 9News)

Three of twelve players interviewed admitted sex was used as a recruiting tool.
An accusation that CU displayed "misfeasance" in regard to how Barnett's football camps dealt with money and bookkeeping issues, asserting that camp monies amounted to "slush funds."
An accusation that the CU Foundation, the university's $700 million fund-raising arm, failed to turn over certain documents.
The conclusion that Barnett and director of football operations David Hansburg gave conflicting testimony on how money from the football camps was handled.
A statement that $2,500 could be missing from the accounts of Barnett's football camps at any given time but that the money wouldn't be missed.
A criticism of Barnett for the way he handled a meeting with "Jane Doe," a woman who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a football player.

That’s quite a laundry list of accusation leveled at one of the largest and most visible university systems in the country. Therein lies the rub…the Board of Regents and Betsy Hoffman have apparently been asleep at the wheel for years.

Not only did they fail to take notice of Churchill’s essay in 2002 when he wrote & published the damn thing but they didn’t even review or investigate Churchill’s Native American status. Apparently Churchill is guilty of defrauding the university and plagiarism but Hoffman et al are seemingly frightened of the prospect of removing a tenured professor. Churchill continues to rattle his saber in public defiance of his impending doom.

As far as Barnett is concerned the university has repeatedly claimed that in order to rid themselves of their football coach it would cost $5 million to buy him out of his contract and untold legal fees should Barnett file wrongful termination charges. I flat out don’t buy it. This university has the CU Foundation which has raised over $700 million in donations. They can’t drum up $5 million? Puh-leez. They could have canned Barnett for lack of institutional control, violations of his morals clause, and multiple recruiting violations. Larry Eustachy, Mike Price, and Rick Neuheisel were all recently fired for conduct unbecoming that didn’t amount to squadoosh compared to Barnett’s shenanigans. Yet college football’s Teflon Don sits high atop Mt. Folsom because, once again, the powers that be at CU have not a spine to speak of.

Betsy Hoffman and the Board of Regents are too chickens**t to affect meaningful change at CU. They’re mired in investigation as the institution they owe a fiduciary duty to sinks from ‘neath their feet. As the powers that be at CU flail around like drowning dogs the university is taking a beating in the court of public opinion. Out of state applications are down by 25%, fund raising supposedly is lagging, and the football program has run amuck. Hoffman & Co. need to stop rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and do their jobs.