CU Coach Reinstated

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The University of Colorado has reinstated suspended football coach Gary Barnett, and made it clear that no one will lose their jobs because of the school's football recruiting scandal.

University President Elizabeth Hoffman says the embattled athletics department will be restructured as part of “sweeping” changes to reduce its autonomy and install greater accountability. She says Barnett and Athletic Director Richard Tharp will remain
at the school.

Barnett says he's grateful for the support he's received from parents, players and others, and that he appreciated Hoffman's decision. Barnett also says he's “dedicated to leading a socially responsible program that will be a source of pride to CU, athletically and academically.”

Excerpts from statements prepared by University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman:

“Make no mistake, the organizational and structural actions we are announcing today are serious, sweeping and will dramatically alter the relationship between the athletics department and the rest of the university. We believe the new structure and procedures are unprecedented among major universities.”

“I take responsibility for my share of those problems, as do chancellor Byyny, athletics director Tharp and coach Barnett. I have spoken with each person individually and in-depth about the problems that occurred and the corrections that must be instituted going forward.”

“To the women of CU, and especially to those who have been the victims of sexual misconduct, I want to say that I feel deeply for you and I empathize with the suffering and frustration some of you have experienced. I want to state categorically: Violence against women is abhorrent to the values of this university. Period.”

“Did Coach Barnett say things that I and others have found offensive? The answer is yes, and for that he has paid a price. Coach Barnett has his shortcomings. But there is an overwhelming sense from a broad group, both male and female, that he has been a great mentor, that he is a tough disciplinarian, a developer of behavioral guidelines for his athletes and a man who believes that a coach's job is to prepare young men and women for their life ahead, not simply to excel in athletics.”

“Could he (Tharp), in some instances, have performed better regarding administration of policies and procedures? Yes. When considered with the many innovations and reforms he has helped institute, were his errors so egregious that they should result in his immediate dismissal? I think not. Dick fully supports the new plan and wishes to help implement it.''

“It is not acceptable to shield your teammates if they are engaging in behavior detrimental to themselves, other students, their team or this school. We cannot be lax in this area.”

“Personnel decisions, such as those we are addressing today, should not be regarded as a blood sport. This is not a soap opera, or a cartoon, or a caricature. They are extremely serious matters that deeply affect the people involved and their families.”

Excerpts from statements prepared by University of Colorado Chancellor Richard Byyny:

“I take responsibility for implementing our action plan and for holding accountable those individuals who have administrative oversight of the department's activities. The message we are sending should be clear: We will take action, and we will be accountable.”

Reaction to this decision:

  • Regent Paul Schauer:
    “I'm very pleased with the direction that this effort is going. I think the administration has put forth considerable effort to begin to steer this in the direction that we need to go to maintain the status of our institution and recognize that we can always do it better.”

  • Regina Cowles, Boulder chapter of the National Organization for Women:
    “The Board of Regents, the chancellor and the president simply wanted this issue to go away. Last week, the regents arrogantly dismissed the report by the investigative panel ... It was like they were saying, 'Let's move on. Let's move on.'”

  • Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida:
    “I think with all the climate that had obviously been created there over the past several years, in terms of the recruiting and allegations of sexual assault and rape, that the university would own up to the fact that whether or not they believed the coach knew it, somebody had to take responsibility for it. And if the coach didn't know about it, it's his job to know about it.”

  • Regent Chairman Peter Steinhauer:
    “In the end, somebody has had to step up and make these final decisions. What we've asked the administration to do is to do what's best for the university. I believe they have done that.

  • Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt:
    “I think all of us from the start expected it to have this outcome. It took a little longer than we thought it would, but we know what type of program we have, and the type of character and integrity our coaches possess. That's what got us through this spring. We know what this program was built on, and that's what we had to stand on.”

  • Gary Klatt, quarterback's father:
    “I don't think it's necessarily a time for celebration because there have been a lot of people hurt. It's now a time of healing. I really believe that if there is any good to come out of this it is that there will be some reform, hopefully throughout college football.”

  • Janine D'Anniballe, executive director of Moving to End Sexual Assault, a Boulder rape counseling center:
    “Barnett was quoted as saying he wants to be part of the solution. I don't see how someone can be part of the solution when they clearly don't understand the problem.”

  • JohnDiBiaggio, hired by Hoffman to evaluate the athletics department and recommend changes:
    “I think they're taking steps---the necessary steps. I think people have been waiting for them to do some things. I wish, and I think they do themselves, that they had spoken out more forcefully earlier. But that's hindsight. That's always better than foresight. So I think in essence they are attempting, from their perspective, to address the issues. We'll just have to wait and see.”

  • Cynthia Stone, Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault:
    “We don't approve of Barnett in any way shape or form, but this is not just one person's problem. From the Regents on down to the guy who carries that water out to the football games---they all need to be committed to making those changes that will prevent this from happening again. We've seen this problem before under different coaches. That's what we want to see fixed.”