DENVER -- At the University of Colorado, a football
recruiting scandal won't die. A professor's essay has likened some
Sept. 11 victims to the Nazi who organized the Holocaust. And a
fight against state funding cuts goes on.
Add finding a new president to the list of challenges facing the
university's Board of Regents. President Elizabeth Hoffman said
Monday she would step down June 30 or when a successor is named.
"I've taken my future off the table so to some extent I can
focus my attention on issues that face the university and not on my
personal future," said Hoffman, who has been president for five
Hoffman said questions about her leadership have made it
difficult to solve the university's problems, especially a football
scandal that produced allegations of rapes, strip-club visits and
alcohol-fueled sex parties for recruits.
Hoffman's resignation comes a little more than a year after
allegations in the football scandal emerged.
Officials said a search committee to find a new president would
soon be created, and observers inside and outside the four-campus
system said there is no doubt there will be qualified candidates
for the job.
"This is still a wonderful university," said regent Pat Hayes
at a news conference Monday. "Hopefully, by the time the search
plays out, we will have most of these problems resolved and some
new processes in place."
At least nine women have said they were assaulted by Colorado
football players or recruits since 1997, and an independent
commission reported last year that Colorado players used sex,
alcohol and marijuana as recruiting tools.
Recently, a sealed grand jury report leaked to the media said
two female trainers alleged they were sexually assaulted by an
assistant coach and that a "slush fund" was created with money
from coach Gary Barnett's football camp.
The grand jury, which finished meeting Aug. 19, handed up a
single indictment accusing a former football recruiting aide of
soliciting a prostitute for himself and misusing a school-issued
A parallel investigation by then-Attorney General Ken Salazar
into the alleged assaults resulted in no charges; prosecutors cited
concerns about evidence and the reluctance of the women to go
forward with the cases.
Barnett, who was reinstated last spring at the behest of
Hoffman, said he was disappointed to see her leave.
"President Hoffman has had to bear the burden of tremendous
pressure, pressure that in many ways has been unfair," Barnett
said in a statement. "It saddens me to see that she feels it is
best for her to resign. There are many including myself that
support her efforts, her values and her leadership. She
demonstrated courage and fairness in her actions to reinstate me. I
consider her a valued friend."
There were other high-profile incidents, the latest surrounding
activist professor Ward Churchill, who likened World Trade Center
victims to the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.
Among other things, the professor said the people killed in the
World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns," a reference to the
Nazi bureaucrat who helped organize the murder of 6 million Jews.
In February, administrators took the first steps toward a possible
dismissal of Churchill.
State Rep. Jack Pommer said he suspects some of the university's
detractors have fueled debate over other issues to avoid the
biggest problem facing the university: the lack of financial
Higher education officials have warned that reduced state aid
will require a tuition increase and possibly even prompt schools to
turn private, putting some students and the state at a competitive
"One of the things President Hoffman did so well was she made
us recognize that higher education in Colorado is going out of
business," said Pommer, a member of the House Education Committee.