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Place Kicker Said She was Raped

DENVER – A female place kicker said she was raped by a University of Colorado football player four years ago but didn’t tell police because she was too frightened.

Katie Hnida makes the allegation in the upcoming edition of Sports Illustrated. She issued a statement Tuesday, saying she’s “healing” from “horrors endured at Colorado, but doesn’t plan to press charges.

Hnida now attends the University of New Mexico.

Her allegation comes after three women recently sued the University of Colorado in federal court, saying they were raped by players or recruits at or just after an off-campus party in December 2001.

No assault charges were filed. But Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan said in a deposition that she believes the school uses alcohol and sex to entice recruits.

An independent panel is being put together to look into the school’s recruiting practices.

Hnida says she was assaulted in the summer of 2000. Now at the University of New Mexico, she last year became the first woman ever to score points in a Division I-A college football game.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post reported Wednesday that a fifth woman told police more than a year ago that she was raped by a football player. That woman did not want to press charges.

“If and when she decides to come forward, I will support her in doing so, but I respect people’s privacy,” Keenan told the newspaper.

Hnida, 22, also issued a statement Tuesday through the University of New Mexico, saying she was “healing” from “horrors endured” at Colorado. The statement does not mention rape, and she says she does not plan to press charges.

Hnida’s statement, however, was intended to confirm the account in Sports Illustrated, New Mexico athletics spokesman Greg Remington said.

University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman and Chancellor Richard Byyny said the special administrator will work within the athletics department and report directly to them. They said they’re seeking someone who is familiar with athletics programs at a major university.

“I think if this person is in the department every day, if such conduct exists this person would see it,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said she and Byyny trust athletic director Dick Tharp and football coach Gary Barnett but still need to monitor the situation to “perhaps save the university from imminent financial ruin.”

Barnett said he was surprised by Hnida’s allegation. Asked if he intended to step down as Colorado’s coach, Barnett said no. He also called Hnida’s play “terrible.” That drew criticism from Hoffman.

“I’m very sorry that he made those comments and I’m certainly going to have a conversation with him today,” Hoffman told KUSA-TV in Denver on Wednesday.

“Whatever he might have thought of her as a player, I think the real issue right now is the shocking allegations that came out in the Sports Illustrated article yesterday.”

The governor has urged the university to take action and an independent panel has been chosen to put together a report by April 30 on recruiting practices. University officials have denied Keenan’s allegations.

Hnida was on Colorado’s roster in 1999 as a walk-on, but never got into a game. Last August, she said she was a target of sexual harassment when she was at Colorado but did not mention rape. She told Sports Illustrated, however, that she was assaulted in 2000 at a teammate’s home.

“He starts to kiss me,” she said. “I told him, ‘That’s not OK.’ Next thing I know he’s on top of me. I told him, ‘No!’ … I tried to push him off me, but he outweighed me by 100 pounds.”

She said she was able to escape after the telephone rang. Asked why she didn’t tell police, she said she was afraid of the player and didn’t want a “media mess.”

Hnida did not try out for the Buffaloes in 2000 after Barnett said he told her she would have to beat out other kickers for the job. Last fall, Hnida said she didn’t return for several reasons, including “an incident during that summer.”

Hnida became the first woman to compete in a Division I-A football game when she attempted an extra point for New Mexico in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl. That kick was blocked. In August of last year, she became the first woman to score in a Division I-A game when she kicked two extra points for New Mexico in a 72-8 win over Texas State-San Marcos.

The panel appointed to look into Colorado’s recruiting practices has run into its own trouble because of potential conflicts of interest. Kenneth Vardell, a retired FBI agent, resigned after regents realized he had administered a lie-detector test to a player after the 2001 party.

Another commission member, Pentecostal bishop Phillip Porter, helped lead the Promise Keepers religious movement launched by former Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. Porter said board Chairman Peter Steinhauer had told him he wants him to remain on the commission.

 

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