Saying he's done nothing wrong, Colorado coach Gary Barnett told the Denver Post he has no plans to resign despite the fact he is the lone key figure remaining from the recruiting scandal that rocked the university.
"I will tell you this: If I had done anything wrong, I would have stepped aside a long time ago," Barnett said in an interview with the paper. "Me staying and me standing up to this is my statement about what this program is about, what we've done from the moment we got here, and what we'll do as long as I'm here."
While Barnett told the newspaper he is surprised he is the only one of the four still in his original position -- CU president Betsy Hoffman recently announced her resignation while athletic director Dick Tharp retired last fall, and CU-Boulder chancellor Richard Byyny resigned in December for a new job at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora -- Barnett said he plans on fulfilling the final two years of his contract, which expires on July 31, 2007. Barnett is due a $2 million retention payout if he completes terms of his contract, which pays him about $1 million annually.
With a civil trial looming this summer stemming from complaints from two women who allege they were sexually assaulted at a 2001 football recruiting party as well as a grand jury report that referenced a football slush fund to funnel money from Barnett's instructional camp and allegations of sexual assault of female trainers, it's been a difficult time for Barnett. Still he has maintained his innocence.
"There's no slush fund, there's never been a slush fund," Barnett told the Denver Post. "All of the books have been audited once. They've actually been audited twice. We've turned everything over to everybody, even personal finances. So I know that we're going to be fine there. This term 'cash boxes,' to think that it's money laying around, if they just would take a minute to think and look and ask and let the judicial process answer it, then they are going to find out that all of this is B.S., is what it is."
On the topic of the grand jury report saying the university should have known that players were using sex, alcohol and marijuana to entice recruits, Barnett is still mildly baffled.
"I don't know how anybody 'should have known.' I don't know how you can say that in factual terms and factual manners in an objective sense." Barnett told the paper.
It's impossible to watch players at all times, he said.
"No one knows what their children are doing at all times," he said. "There's not an adult or parent out there that could ever stand up and say that. I have a responsibility to teach them, teach them values, teach them the right things and hold them accountable. There isn't a parent anywhere that holds a coach responsible for his or her son's actions when they are away from that coach, as long as that coach has imparted good information, good values and held them accountable.
As for reports of a culture of abuse of the student trainers, Barnett "absolutely" denies it.
"I can't speak totally for the trainers, but if you interviewed 35 trainers, 33 of them will tell you they had a great experience at the University of Colorado. It sounds like two of them don't feel that way, or haven't felt that way," he told the Post. "Last year we had more female applicants for our trainers' position than at any time in our history. We had well over 50."
Still, though it all, the thought of leaving has never entered Barnett's mind.
"The only thing I worry about is making sure that we've got the best football team, and do the right things, and win as many games as we can and graduate our players," he said.