Thursday, February 19, 2004

Sportswriter responses to the Colorado football scandal

Some of the writers in's Writers' Bloc have posted their thoughts on the football program at the University of Colorado. I was appalled when I read in this week's Sports Illustrated Katie Hnida's account of her treatment and rape at the hands of Colorado football players. If it was possible, I was even more appalled/aghast/disgusted when I heard Coach Gary Barnett tell reporters in person, in front of cameras and microphones that his players treated Hnida the way they did because she was an "awful" player who "couldn't kick the ball through the uprights." Barnett has since apologized for his comments, which he claimed were "misinterpreted or taken out of context." Unfortunately for him, he's been suspended by the university pending an investigation, and the school president called his comments "unacceptable."

I should be surprised that someone like Barnett is in charge of a Division I football program, but after characters like Rick Neuheisel and Mike Price lost their jobs (for gambling and blowing university expense account funds on strippers, respectively), and years of stories about academic fraud in other programs (like Minnesota basketball a few years back) I'm not shocked by anything that happens in college athletics. But there's no way that Barnett should be allowed to keep his job after this week's events, even if it turns out he didn't know anything about the strippers, the harassment, or the alleged rape. Just the fact that these practices went on during his tenure should be enough to cost him his job. As the head coach, he must be held accountable for the actions of his assistants (who allegedly hired strippers for recruiting parties) and his players. There's no way to fix this problem with him staying at Colorado.

By the way, Rick Reilly's column in this week's SI is one of his best. It's not available online yet, so you'll have to pick up the magazine on the newsstand. Or you can borrow my copy when I'm done with it.

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