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College football tarnished again

By Doug Gorman

I'm not sure I have ever written a football-based column in February.

This is the time to pen editorials about high school and college basketball tournaments.

But when University of Colorado head football Gary Barnett stuck his foot in his mouth Wednesday night, I could feel my blood pressure rise and the wheels in my brain start spinning.

For those who might have missed it, Barnett's mouth got him in trouble when he committed negatively about the alleged rape of Katie Hnida.

Hnida was a University of Colorado student who tried to break new ground by joining the school's football team as a place kicker.

Those of us who have followed football in the Southern Crescent know other female athletes have made an impact as kickers on football teams.

In the late 1990s, Tonya Butler was an all-area kicker for Riverdale. Last year, Kala Smith kicked for Jonesboro and Sara Schroeter played for Stockbridge, so while it is rare it can be done and should be accepted. If a person can kick, I don't care about their gender and they certainly shouldn't be subject to any kind of abuse.

Wednesday, Barnett was more concerned about discussing Hnida's ability as a place kicker than whether or not she might have been sexually assaulted.

Barnett sank to a new low by referring to her as a girl and as terrible when assessing her ability to kick. For the record, Hnida has transferred to the University of New Mexico, and last season she made history by becoming the first female football player to score a point in a Division 1-A football game.

University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman acted immediately and placed Barnett on paid administrative leave.

The coach is trying to do damage control by using the aged-old excuse of blaming those of us media by saying his comments were taken out of context.

That doesn't fly. No matter how you slice it, Barnett's comments were insensitive and lacked judgement.

I don't know of Hnida was sexual assaulted, but I think the allegations alone are another example of how college athletics is spinning out of control.

Also, at the University of Colorado, a civil lawsuit has been filed by three women claiming they were raped by players or recruits at an off-campus party in 2001. No criminal charges have been filed in that case, but the district attorney in Bolder said she believes the school.

Of course it's not just at the University of Colorado where bad things are happening. Football teams all around the country are recruiting bad apples.

Earlier this month, the University of Miami signed a talented football player. As it turned out is rap sheet was just as impressive as he football bio and days later he was arrested for violating his parole. The Hurricanes claimed they didn't know about his past. Do schools not do background checks before recruiting a player.

The real problem is college football has turned into such a large cash-generating machine we tend overlook major indiscretions among its participants. As the old saying goes we tend to accept the fact that "boys will be boys, especially if they are high-profiled athletes.

Well, there is no excuse for ignoring criminal acts.

College football is still a great game, and most of the athletes play by the rules, represent their schools in a posisitve manner and are solid citizens.

For those who decide to break the law, they need to trade a locker room for a jail cell.

(Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. He can be e-mailed at dgorman@news-daily.com).