DENVER - Police said Thursday they are investigating whether a woman was raped by a Colorado player after leaving a bar in 2002 - the seventh allegation of its kind to surface since 1997.
"This was a particularly brutal case," Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said. The woman said she was sodomized.
The program is at the center of a scandal concerning accusations that recruits were lured to Boulder with sex and alcohol, and which may end up costing coach Gary Barnett his job.
Three women have sued the school in federal court, saying they were raped by players in 2001 and the university did nothing after a high school student accused a player of rape in 1997.
In the past few weeks, three more cases have been disclosed. Former player Katie Hnida, a placekicker, says she was raped by a teammate in 2000, and a one-time athletic department worker says she was assaulted by a player in 2001.
In the latest case, the woman told police she met two men at a bar Aug.23, 2002, but had trouble remembering what happened after leaving for her apartment. She told police "she may have been drugged."
The woman reported a bump on her forehead and bleeding from what she told police was a sexual assault.
One witness interviewed by police, a bartender, refused to disclose the names of two men in the bar.
"He said he would not risk getting them into trouble because, "They're on scholarships, I can't do that to them,"' police said.
Beckner said the woman had difficulty identifying a suspect, but authorities eventually focused on two football players. DNA tests ruled out one as a suspect, while tests on the second player's sample haven't been completed, he said.
Meanwhile, a half-dozen former players defended Barnett, saying he has provided discipline and morality despite the snowballing accusations.
"We believe Coach Barnett is a man of high moral integrity," former quarterback Charles Johnson said, standing with other former players before reporters. "We believe he is doing the right things. A balanced story is not being told."
Barnett was put on paid leave late Wednesday for criticizing the ability of Hnida. He said she was "not only a girl, she was terrible," a comment university officials said was unacceptable given the seriousness of her allegation.
USF adjusts home schedule
USF moved the Pittsburgh game from Sept.25 to Sept.4, replacing Division I-AA Tennessee Tech as the season opener, and the Bulls play host to Tech on Sept.11. USF travels to South Carolina on Sept.18. The remaining eight games against Conference USA teams have not been announced. The Big East asked the Panthers to move the game.
GRAMBLING STATE: Assistant Melvin Spears was named interim coach, replacing Doug Williams, who resigned Feb.13 to take an executive position in personnel with the Buccaneers. Spears will get a one-year contract, athletic director Albert Dennis said.
KENTUCKY: Three projected returnees are not enrolled, a university official said. Athletics department spokesman Tony Neely said it is not known if linebacker Brad Booker, safety Maurice Marchman or tight end Bruce Fowler will return.
LSU: Nick Saban signed a seven-year contract that guarantees at least $2.3-million this season, making him the highest paid coach. The deal was approved Thursday by a panel of the LSU governing board and was expected to receive final approval from the full board today. Saban can earn an extra $400,000 based on postseason appearances and team graduation rates, similar to incentives in his previous contract. Under the incentives built into the contract, Saban could make up to $2.7-million this season and up to $3.4-million in 2010, the final year of the contract.
MISSISSIPPI: Defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach will switch from defensive backs coach to linebackers coach next season, and newly hired assistant Jay Hopson will take over the secondary.
VIRGINIA: Mark D'Onofrio was hired as tight ends and special-teams coach.
- Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.