PUEBLO, Colo. -- A leader of an independent commission that
investigated the University of Colorado football recruiting scandal
said the panel was "stabbed in the back" and that coach Gary
Barnett should be fired.
Joyce Lawrence, a former state legislator who was co-chairwoman
of the panel, told the Pueblo Chieftain Tuesday that Barnett and
other athletics department officials never revealed the existence
of a "slush fund" mentioned in a report by a grand jury that
conducted a separate probe. The still officially sealed report was
leaked to the media last week, re-igniting the controversy
surrounding the CU football program.
"We've been stabbed in the back. They knew what we wanted, but
they didn't reveal that to us or to (CU President Elizabeth
Hoffman) at the time," Lawrence said.
"Yes, Coach Barnett needs to be replaced," she said. "The
football and athletic staff knew the (independent commission)
wanted to know about all the money that was going into the program
and they never told us about those cash boxes."
Thousands of dollars from Barnett's football camp went into a
slush fund stashed in "16 or 17" cash boxes, each managed by a
different person with little oversight, according to the grand
jury's findings, which were first reported by The Denver Post and
KUSA-TV in Denver.
"I think it was pretty obvious what we were looking for,"
Lawrence said Wednesday, expressing frustration that the commission
heard nothing of the allegations. "You depend on people to be very
honest with you about how they used their moneys."
Barnett has said he could not comment on the report because of a
judge's gag order. Hoffman cautioned last week that grand jury
reports are one-sided and give their targets no opportunity to
Lawrence said commission member Luis Rovira, a former Colorado
Supreme Court justice, urged the panel "to follow the money."
Rovira said the allegations about the funds didn't surprise him.
"My sense of it is that there's been such funds for years and
years," he added.
Rovira noted that football coach Sonny Grandelius was fired in
1962 following an investigation into allegations that coaches paid
cash to top recruits and their families. The NCAA declared 20
recruits ineligible and CU President Quigg Newton resigned.
Both the independent commission and the grand jury investigated
the football program last year and concluded that some players had
arranged sex, drugs and alcohol for visiting athletes who were
being recruited for the team.
The commission, which was named by the university's governing
Board of Regents, issued a scathing report in May criticizing
Hoffman and others for lax oversight but stopping short of calling
for anyone to be fired.
On Monday, Hoffman announced she was stepping down effective
June 30 or when a successor is named.
The grand jury wrapped up its work in August, indicting one
low-level university employee on charges of soliciting a prostitute
and misusing a school cell phone.