House speaker hesitant to approve private testimony

DENVER -- The independent commission investigating the
University of Colorado's football program is unlikely to get
subpoena power or take private testimony, according to a top

House Speaker Lola Spradley, R-Beulah, met at the Capitol last
week with the co-chairs of the commission, former state lawmakers
Joyce Lawrence and Peggy Lamm, to discuss the request for subpoena

Any legislation granting the commission subpoena power or an
exemption from the Open Meetings law, which requires testimony in
public, would require special "late-bill" status. As speaker,
Spradley would have to approve that status; so far, she has not
given that approval.

"I need to know a lot more specifics about what and who and how
they would use it," she said. "And I'd need a better
understanding of what their mission is as opposed to the special

That special prosecutor is Colorado Attorney General Ken
Salazar, whom Gov. Bill Owens appointed to determine if there has
been any criminal wrongdoing involving the CU football program.

The CU regents appointed the eight-member commission in response
to allegations that the football program used sex and alcohol as
recruitment tools.

The commission is also reviewing the university's policies on
sexual misconduct and substance abuse and whether those policies
are being enforced.

CU officials have been dealing with allegations made by women
who contend that they were sexually assaulted either by CU football
players or recruits since December 2001. No criminal charges were
filed in any of those cases.

One of the women, a former CU athletics department employee, has
indicated through her lawyer that she is willing to talk to the
panel, but only on a confidential basis.

The panel voted earlier this month to seek subpoena power on a
limited basis.

At its meeting last Tuesday, the commissioners voted 6-1 to seek
an exemption from the Open Meetings law. The vote was a reversal of
a decision at a previous meeting when the commission voted 4-3 not
to seek an exemption.

Spradley said she has not received that request yet, but she
would have the same questions as she did on the subpoena power

"What if you do it (take private testimony) and you find out
something that the special prosecutor ought to know?" Spradley

"It's an important investigation and we want to make sure it's
done right" Spradley said of the commission's work. "But the
legislature has a right to know the specifics of what we're being
asked to do."

The commission will meet again at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Broomfield
City Hall.