Nov. 18, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

BOULDER, Colo. -- Stricter spending controls are needed at the University of Colorado, its foundation and at football camps run by head coach Gary Barnett, according to an auditor hired by state prosecutors.

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The auditor questioned numerous unexplained transactions, including $780,000 in deposits to the Gary Barnett Football Technique School and $13,000 in "tuition" payments to the children of two assistant coaches, the Rocky Mountain News reported in Wednesday's edition. The newspaper said it obtained a copy of the report by auditor Predovich & Company of Highlands Ranch.

The report also questioned the undocumented use of "large amounts" of money labeled "petty cash."

The report concluded that the university, the CU Foundation and Barnett's football schools failed to produce documents subpoenaed by Attorney General Ken Salazar's office.

In a statement Wednesday, Colorado president Elizabeth Hoffman and Boulder campus chancellor Richard Byyny said the university has never seen a written report by Predovich & Company. They said they were "outraged" that the document was released to the press, and said they had brought it to the attention of the judge in the grand jury investigation.

"We believe we fully complied with all subpoenas for documents issued by the grand jury," Hoffman and Byyny said. They said they had received assurances from Salazar's office that the university had complied with the subpoenas.

The auditor's report recommended a "complete, independent review" of internal financial controls at the university, the foundation and at Barnett's schools.

Hoffman and Byyny said they believe those controls are "appropriate and adequate," but said they have ordered additional audits to ensure public confidence.

In its own statement, the foundation said it went to "extraordinary lengths" to comply with grand jury requests. Its own audit released in August found only seven minor errors, according to the statement.

"There is absolutely no indication of anything illicit or unseemly," foundation chairman George Sissel said. "Considering the large volume of transactions worth millions of dollars, these findings are exemplary."

An audit released by the chancellor's office last week recommended the university ban the use of private funds for recruiting, a measure already implemented by the athletic department.

It also said it found no evidence that escorts or strippers were hired to lure recruits.

Hoffman and Byyny said Barnett and his football school have agreed to an independent audit of all transactions involving the football school and an organization it started that also was cited in the Predovich report.

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The grand jury investigation and other investigations were prompted by two federal lawsuits filed against the university by women who claimed they were raped by football players or recruits at a Dec. 7, 2001 off-campus party. The lawsuits accuse the university of fostering an atmosphere that failed to discourage sexual assault and harassment, depriving the women of equal educational opportunities.

A regent-appointed panel in May said sex and booze were used to entice football recruits to Boulder, without the university's knowledge.

No criminal charges were filed in any of the alleged sexual assaults, but the grand jury indicted former recruiting aide Nathan Maxcey for allegedly hiring a prostitute and using his university-issued cell phone to call prostitutes.

Maxcey has denied any wrongdoing.

The auditor's report cited incomplete or missing explanations for numerous payments by or deposits to accounts operated by the university, the foundation and the football schools.

Among them were some large "petty cash" payments including one check for $5,100, and a lack of documentation provided to state investigators for miscellaneous charges of nearly $14,500 to a San Antonio, Texas, hotel when the Buffaloes attended the December 2002 Alamo Bowl.

Meanwhile, the grand jury's written report remains sealed under an order by Denver District Judge Jeffrey Bayless.

Salazar's office has asked the judge to reconsider the order, and has indicated it will appeal if the ruling stands.