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Colorado overhauls

recruiting guidelines

AURORA, Colo. (AP) -- Colorado announced sweeping changes to its scandal-ridden football program Thursday, barring recruits from visiting bars and private parties and putting them under the close supervision of parents and coaches.

Calling the guidelines the strictest in the nation, university president Betsy Hoffman and chancellor Richard Byyny said recruits will now visit the Boulder campus during the offseason so coaches and athletes will have more time to focus on them. All activities will be planned, approved and supervised by a coach.

The recruits, primarily high school athletes, also will be limited to a single night's stay during campus visits, instead of the usual two. A 1 a.m. curfew will be moved up to 11 p.m.

"As painful an experience as it may be, we view it as an opportunity to set the standard for an issue all colleges and universities must be concerned about," Hoffman said.

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Seven women have accused Colorado football players or recruits of rape since 1997. The school faces federal lawsuits by three of the women who say they were raped by football athletes at or just after a 2001 off-campus recruiting party.

Asked if the new guidelines will hurt recruiting, Byyny said: "It really doesn't matter. We want to have a model program."

"We want to make sure students understand they are here first for an education," he said.

Athletic director Dick Tharp said the new policies would be evaluated for other athletic programs.

Football coach Gary Barnett is on paid leave for remarks he made in connection with two of the seven rape allegations, including disparaging the athletic ability of a former player who said she was raped by a teammate in 2000. No charges have been filed in the cases.

Colorado football players also have been accused of hiring strippers for recruits and taking recruits to parties where alcohol was available.

Boulder County prosecutor Mary Keenan has said she believes the program offered sex and alcohol to lure recruits to Boulder, a claim university officials have denied.

The Board of Regents has appointed a panel to investigate, and Gov. Bill Owens tabbed the state's attorney general as a special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. The scandal helped spur a congressional hearing on college recruiting practices that is scheduled for next week.

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Hoffman said some of the recruiting changes have been discussed for more than two years. She also said the changes were consistent with what Barnett was considering before he was put on leave.

"There's no question circumstances have thrust us into taking a national leadership role in reforming college sports recruiting," Hoffman said.

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