Recruits under much stricter watch

AURORA, Colo. -- The University of Colorado announced
sweeping changes to its scandal-ridden football program Thursday,
putting recruits under the close supervision of parents and coaches
and barring them from visiting bars and private parties.

Calling the new guidelines the strictest in the nation,
university President Betsy Hoffman and Chancellor Richard Byyny
said recruits will now visit the Boulder campus during the
offseason so coaches and athletes will have more time to focus on

All activities will be planned, approved and supervised by a

The recruits, primarily high school athletes, will also be under
strict supervision and campus visits will be limited to a single
night's stay, instead of the usual two. The 1 a.m. curfew coaches
had long said was the only one at the Division I level will also be
moved up to 11 p.m.

"As painful an experience as it may be, we view it as an
opportunity to set the standard for an issue all colleges and
universities must be concerned about," Hoffman said.

Asked if the strict new guidelines will hurt recruiting, Byyny
said: "It really doesn't matter. We want to have a model

"We want to make sure students understand they are here first
for an education," he said.

Athletic director Dick Tharp said the new policies would be
evaluated for other athletic programs.

Seven women have accused Colorado football players or recruits
of rape since 1997, though no charges have been filed. Coach Gary
Barnett is on paid leave for remarks he made in two of the cases,
including disparaging the athletic ability of a former player who
said she was raped by a teammate in 2000.

Football players also have been accused of hiring strippers for
recruits and taking recruits to parties with booze. Boulder County
prosecutor Mary Keenan has said she believes the program offers sex
and alcohol to lure recruits to Boulder, a claim university
officials have denied. The school faces federal lawsuits filed by
three women who say they were raped by football athletes at or just
after a 2001 off-campus recruiting party.

The Board of Regents appointed a panel to investigate and Gov.
Bill Owens tabbed Attorney General Ken Salazar as a special
prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
The scandal helped spur a congressional hearing on college
recruiting practices that is scheduled for next week.

Hoffman said some of the changes have been discussed for more
than two years. She also said the changes were consistent with what
Barnett was considering before he was put on leave.

"There's no question circumstances have thrust us into taking a
national leadership role in reforming college sports recruiting,"
Hoffman said. "I suspect other universities will follow some of
the leads we've been taking."

There has been speculation the scandal will cost Barnett or
someone else their job. Hoffman said the changes announced Thursday
included no personnel changes.

"The university can't stop just because we have an
investigation going on," she said. "We have to make decisions as
we go along."

Former player Charles Johnson said the changes only add to the
perception that athletes, particularly football players, "are a
danger to our campus and we have to reduce their exposure to the
campus in order to either keep them or other students on campus

"It's wrong," he said.

Tharp responded: "This is not to say that we believe that we
somehow have an aberrant program. We're just trying to advance
ourselves along this process."

The guidelines were announced a few hours after the regents
added a victims' advocate to the seven-member panel investigating
the scandal. Jean McAllister works in the domestic abuse assistance
program in the state Department of Human Services and will soon be
the executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual

Owens had urged the board to also add a prosecutor to the panel.
A proposal to expand the panel, however, failed on a tie vote,
leaving the possibility of only one addition.

The regents also approved a $450,000 budget for the scandal
investigation. No state funds will be used. The sum includes
$100,000 for John DiBiaggio, who will serve as a special liaison
between university officials and the athletics program through

An NCAA task force will look at recruiting practices this
spring. Jeff Howard, a spokesman with the National Collegiate
Athletics Association, said Colorado's moves sounded like a good

"Obviously, the university's leadership is moving in a
direction that will help ensure that any recruiting practices in
the future adhere to the university's strict guidelines," he said.