Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated on its Web page reported that Katie Hnida, a former place kicker, said she was subjected to lewd comments by other players, groped in team huddles and raped by a teammate.
Coach Barnett issued a statement saying he knew nothing about the rape but later when trying to explain why Hnida had been harassed said she was an awful player who was not respected by team members.
'You know what guys do, they respect your ability. Katie was a girl, and not only was she a girl, she was terrible. She couldn't kick the ball through the uprights,' he said. "
As a former coach I've had the opportunity to meet and talk with Gary Barnett and it is my opinion that he's a great coach and a good guy. Seeing this interview clip on TV this morning just stunned me -- it seemed so out of character for him to say this. Frankly, in my opinion, there is a certain contingent of guys who will never accept a woman on their football team and will harrass them regardless of their ability to play. The fact that Hnida is blond and at least somewhat pretty undoubtedly made things that much harder on her I'm sure.
For Coach Barnett to say she was "terrible" certainly doesn't reflect well on him or his program -- if she was so "terrible" then why was she wearing the Colorado uniform? How did she make the team? Surely she must've kicked the ball through the uprights at least occasionally. I don't think it's Coach Barnett's policy to just pluck random women out of the student directory and offer them spots on the team.
I suspect that what happened is that Coach Barnett is under tremendous stress with all of the sex scandals facing his program right now and he just snapped and lashed out in this impromptu interview. I don't know him well, but if he is the man I always thought he was I'm sure he regretted what he said as soon as he got in his car and left.
I'd like to think that if he had the chance to do it again he would have said something more along the lines of: "Katie gave it a great effort, but ultimately we had other kickers on the roster who had better range and accuracy than she did and we had to let her go. We wish her the best at New Mexico."
Maybe I'm wrong, but I hope that's what he would have said in a less-crazy time.
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