DENVER -- The Colorado football team spent almost $35,000 to
give each player an electronic organizer as a reward for making it
to a bowl game last month, even as other programs at the school say
they are strapped for cash.
CU bought 100 Dell Axim hand-held computers at $349.23 each, according to university spending records reviewed by the Rocky
Mountain News. They were a reward for playing in the EV1.Net
Houston Bowl, a game Colorado won over Texas-El Paso.
Men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton has cut the use of
chartered airplanes for his team, saving money but forcing them to
miss many more classes. Women's basketball coach Ceal Barry is cutting other costs in her budget so she can keep using chartered flights.
Interim Athletic Director Jack Lengyel said he doesn't favor
taking away gifts from athletes in one sport to help solve
financial woes elsewhere.
"That's why we exist, is for student-athlete opportunities, and
to deny them full access to their successes with regards to
championships to me is not a way to solve a financial problem
within the athletic department," Lengyel said Monday.
Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda says giving electronic gadgets to
athletes is common around the conference.
"I know it's not uncommon to get DVD players, iPods," he said. "It's generally electronics, things the kids can use, things they
wouldn't normally have."
Colorado's athletic department is now more than $3 million in
debt this year, a deficit driven in part by the school's struggle
to lease luxury boxes and club seating at Folsom Field. Last year,
the school asked the men's and women's basketball teams and the
volleyball teams to stop flying on chartered planes to save money.
Patton complained publicly last week that his players were
missing class because commercial flights offer less flexibility. He
met with Lengyel on Monday.
"Both of us mutually have the same concerns regarding the
academic concerns about the basketball team," Lengyel said.
"We're working to resolve that as quickly as possible."
Patton and Barry both said they didn't support taking away gifts
from the football players. Patton, however, said he has "cut as
many corners as I think we can cut."
Barry decided her assistant coaches didn't need to attend an
annual convention, and she has cut back on expenses for the annual
"You have to make some hard choices," she said. "Maybe we'll
have some basketball guy drop money so our kids can have a banquet.
We'll do something -- if we have burgers on a grill in my back yard
-- we'll do something."