Colorado passes law to battle secrecy, scandal in public university foundation

COLORADO — Allegations of sexual assault and drug and alcoholabuse during football recruitment plagued the University of Colorado last year,leading lawmakers and state officials to eye the University of ColoradoFoundation, which held key documents that would indicate how some funding forrecruitment was spent.

But as lawsuits mounted and political pressure rose,the foundation still refused to hand over the documents.

Soon after thescandal broke, in late 2004, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens vocally supported a bill into thestate legislature that would open all Colorado public university foundations,the fundraising arms of universities. In February 2005, the bill sailed throughthe state legislature with a 56-9 vote in the House and a unanimous vote in theSenate. Owens signed the bill into law on May 24.

When the Boulder DailyCamera was denied numerous open records requests by the University ofColorado Foundation in September 2004, it threatened the foundation with legalaction. The foundation then responded by suing the Camera, claiming thefoundation is not subject to open-records laws.

The University of ColoradoFoundation received requests from the Camera for documents regarding theUniversity of Colorado football scandal, allegedly involving illegal footballrecruitment practices. In October, the E.W. Scripps Co., owner of theCamera, asked a judge to dismiss the foundation’s case.

InFebruary, the report of the grand jury investigating the football scandal wasleaked to the Denver Post and Colorado 9News. The University of ColoradoFoundation failed to comply with public records subpoenas issued by a grandjury, the report revealed. Theses records contained information about how somemoney for football recruiting was allocated.

The university denied thisinformation. Bob Miller, attorney for the university, said in a statement thatthe university believes it fully complied with all subpoenas for documents basedon assurances from the attorney general’s office “including anexplicit assurance to counsel for the university approximately one week beforethe grand jury concluded its work.”

Miller said that when the documentswere subpoenaed, the attorney general’s office said there were no concernsabout the documents the university provided, and that the grand jury’sreport incorrectly included that the failure to provide the documents wasintentional.

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

Read previous coverage:

Colorado gov. proposes legislation to force open CU Foundation books The Report, Winter 2004-05