Editors note: This was originally posted on March 5, 2004 on my old blog (Tea and Strumpets or… the T&S for short). Since FSU is in the playoff tomorrow, I thought it may be a worth a reprint. Especially since FSU had some rape allegations of their own with their qb Jameis Winston and this shows a lackluster institutional attitude that goes back years….
Oh, Hey Teens, Mark Roehl here. Some disturbing news in the world of college football has come to the forefront lately. As I’m sure most of the five people who read this column on a regular basis have heard, there have been some very serious rape and sexual assault allegations at the University of Colorado involving their football program and their recruiting process. In fact seven women have come forth and accused football players or football recruits of rape since 1997. It has also been alleged that the Colorado football coaches used strip clubs and sex parties as a recruiting tool to get highly touted high-school recruits to play football at the University. The scandal has large enough implications that the Colorado Attorney General is launching its own investigation into the matter.
One of the women who came forth with accusations of rape was former player Katie Hnida (Nee-Da) who was a kicker on the 1999 Colorado team coached by Gary Barnett. She has asserted that she was raped by a teammate in the summer of 2000. She also alleges that she was groped and touched inappropriately during practices and repeatedly called vulgar names while the coaches watched idly by. The T&S finds these allegations very disturbing and thinks that coach Gary Barnett should be outright fired and possibly jailed if the allegations that the coaches used sex parties and strip clubs as a tool to recruit high school prospects are true. No player deserves to be treated like that regardless of sex. While we’re not the biggest fans of woman playing sports (foxy boxing and mud wrestling excluded), Katie Hnida was a member of the team and she should have been treated as such. She was an all-county kicker and was offered a walk-on spot on the team by then-coach Rick Neuheisel so she obviously had enough talent for a division I coach to believe in her. I was embarrassed for Colorado when Gary Barnett responded to the rape allegations and the conduct by his players towards Hnida by saying “It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful,” he said. “Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There’s no other way to say it.” His response was to blame the rape victim which shows not only that he is an a-hole, but also that he is in denial and doesn’t care about the well-being of his former players, the reputation of the school that he was representing, and that he is an insensitive jerk. His response can be interpreted as saying that it’s okay that she was raped because she wasn’t good at football and that kind of behavior cannot be tolerated.
Is Barnett Responsible for His Players and Coaches Actions?
While we are outraged by what happened at Colorado, we’re also outraged that Bobby Bowden, the coach of the Florida State Seminoles, has come to the defense of Gary Barnett and challenged the validity of Katie Hnida’s rape allegations (click here for the story). Bowden was quoted as saying “Gary Barnett simply told what he thought was the truth: She was not a very good player. Boy, that cost him. Fifty years ago, nobody would have even said a thing about that (comment).” Umm, Bobby, fifty years ago, no one said anything about blacks being segregated either but that didn’t make that right now did it. No one said anything about woman not having the same opportunity as men fifty years ago. Just because people would turn a blind eye in the past, doesn’t make it right or acceptable.
FSU Fans Have Another Reason to Hang Their Heads
In another quote, Robert (Bobby) Bowden directly questions the validity of Hnida’s statement by saying “I did not understand how a young lady can say she was abused, or whatever it was, two years later. At the time, why don’t you go report it? It seems like you ought to report it right (away). So it makes me say, ‘Well, did it really happen like that?’ I just don’t know.” Now here at the T&S, we don’t claim to be experts by any means, but studies have shown that after a rape, the victim feels embarrassed, scared, angry, and confused (http://www.raperecovery.com/). When asked why Katie didn’t go to the police after it happened, she responded “I was so scared of what he might do to me, and I didn’t want a huge media mess. I was already carrying around so much inside me, I was numb.” This is a completely understandable response given what happened; one that Bobby Bowden is too dense to accept. In an update on the comments, Bowden says that they were not about Hnida, but rather about another of the women who have accused the school of fostering an environment where this kind of behavior is tolerated. The newspaper stands by the original story that the comments were about Hnida. It really doesn’t matter which woman Bobby Bowden was talking about because the facts are the same on why women often times don’t come forth right away so the woman is a mute point. We at the T&S are proposing that society has passed Bobby Bowden and his antiquated views on women need to be dealt with by the Florida State University because comments like these are unacceptable. They are inexcusable after a tragedy like that has happened, but what more would you expect from a school that sends more players to jail than they do to the N.F.L. It’s time that society quits giving Bobby Bowden and Gary Barnett a free ride and begins to hold them accountable for not only their comments, but their actions as well. Gary Barnett should be fired immediately and Bobby Bowden should be put on probation and be required to take diversity training for his misguided comments.
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