Grand jury report accuses Colo. university foundation of withholding records

COLORADO — The University of Colorado Foundation failed to comply with public records subpoenas issued by a grand jury investigating University of Colorado football recruiting practices, according to the grand jury’s report, which was leaked to the Denver Post and a Denver news station on Feb. 28.

According to the Denver Post, the grand jury report said that without the documents, the grand jury could not determine how money in an alleged “slush fund” of approximately $780,000, used by Coach Gary Barnett to recruit prospective football players, was spent. The report primarily focused on alleged illegal recruitment practices possibly funded with this money.

The University of Colorado Foundation sought a court order in September 2004 to seal its records, citing that the foundation was not subject to state open-records laws because it is independent of the public university. The court order request came after it denied three public-record requests by the Boulder Daily Camera involving the recruitment scandal, including allegations that three women were sexually assaulted by current football players and prospective recruits.

The foundation lost the first round its battle in February, when a bill that would open public university foundation records, but would tack on a fee for copies and research, sailed through the state legislation education committee with a 13-0 vote. State open-records laws require public organizations to provide documents to the public.

When the grand jury investigation regarding the football scandal began, the grand jury subpoenaed a series of documents related to the fund, but the report contends the grand jury never gained access to those documents, according to the Denver Post

University President Elizabeth Hoffman adamantly denied that the university failed to comply with the investigation, and urged the lead prosecutor to “set the record straight immediately.”

“We received the subpoenas requesting documents,” Hoffman said in a statement. “In both cases, we responded completely to the requests. In fact, on more than one occasion, our lawyers worked directly with the grand jury’s lead prosecutor to help determine which documents the grand jury was seeking when its request wasn’t clear.”

Bob Miller, attorney for the university, said in a statement that the university believes it fully complied with all subpoenas for documents based on assurances from the attorney general’s office “including an explicit assurance to counsel for the university approximately one week before the grand jury concluded its work.”

Miller said that when the documents were subpoenaed, the attorney general’s office said there were no concerns about the documents the university provided, and that the grand jury’s report incorrectly included that the failure to provide the documents was intentional.

Colorado Deputy Attorney General Jason Dunn declined to comment, but said, “We investigated the leaks. They didn’t come from this office, but the governor and attorney general are talking now about the next steps to take.”

–By Elisabeth Salemme

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