University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman yesterday announced what she called "serious, sweeping" changes in the way the school's athletic department will function, though no employees lost their jobs or were demoted in the reshuffling following a four-month scandal that engulfed the Buffaloes' football program.
Football coach Gary Barnett and Athletic Director Dick Tharp will both retain their jobs, Hoffman said, despite the fact that an investigative committee report released last week was critical of how both men ran their respective departments. Since 1997, at least nine female students have alleged sexual assault against Colorado football players or recruits, and there have been widespread charges that sex, alcohol and drugs were used to entice prospective players to campus.
Barnett had been suspended since Feb. 18, when he made derogatory comments regarding former CU kicker Katie Hnida, who alleges she was raped by a CU player.
Joanne Belknap, a sociology professor at the school, sharply criticized Hoffman's decisions.
"I don't know what else somebody would have to do to be fired for cause," Belknap said in a telephone interview yesterday. "The likelihood that a rape victim is going to come forward and accuse a high-profile person of wrongdoing on this campus now is pretty nonexistent. . . . It's extremely mind-boggling. I think it just really damages the University of Colorado's reputation."
Belknap said the idea that the athletic department will become less autonomous is a solid move. Tharp will now report to the school's provost, the chief academic officer, in an effort to integrate the athletic department with the university as a whole.
-- Barry Svrluga