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1/11/2005

Hnida discusses CU on ‘Today Show’

By Bruce Plasket
The Daily Times-Call

DENVER — In her first public comments since accusing an unnamed University of Colorado teammate of raping her, former CU kicker Katie Hnida on Monday said an investigation into the five-year-old incident is “far from over.”

Hnida, who became the first woman to dress for a Division I college football game in 1999 at CU and who later became the first woman to score in a game when she kicked an extra point for the University of New Mexico Lobos, made the comment during a taped interview with Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today Show.”

“It was a minute that has changed my life forever,” she said of the alleged attack by a teammate with whom she said she was “watching a game” at his home in August 2000. “It’s still something I wake up to and have to deal with every day.”

Hnida, who kicked at Chatfield High School before walking on as a kicker at the request of then-CU coach Rick Neuheisel, said her male teammates disrespected and harassed her beginning her first day of practice.

“I was walking back to the locker room and was surrounded by five men who were much bigger than I was, asking me sexual questions,” she said.

Hnida also alleged that male teammates, while in the huddle, “would rub up against me” and claimed the men “would occasionally expose themselves.”

She said the player was someone she was “very close to” and that she tried to stop him.

“I literally pushed up onto his shoulder and told him to stop,” she said, claiming the attack stopped when the player stopped to answer a phone.

“I high-tailed it out of there,” she said. “I got in my car and was shaking. I backed my car into a pole.” Hnida said she was a 19-year-old virgin at the time of the alleged attack.

She said she didn’t notify police in fear of creating a “media storm” and didn’t tell head coach Gary Barnett for fear of being dismissed from the team.

“I knew that I couldn’t go to coach Barnett,” she said. “I literally was afraid he would have kicked me off the team.”

Barnett, who was suspended last February for telling reporters Hnida was “ a terrible kicker,” declined comment when reached on Monday.

“I can’t comment right now,” he said. Barnett earlier said he gave former quarterback Zack Colvin a verbal tongue-lashing when he heard that Colvin had called Hnida an off-color name and at that time Barnett said he wanted Hnida to make the team.

Upon leaving CU after her freshman year, Hnida attended a California junior college before enrolling at the University of New Mexico in 2002. She graduated from that school in December and is currently exploring book and movie deals, as well as a possible job as a sideline reporter, NBC said.

Hnida’s allegations came to light last February in a Sports Illustrated article.

CU, in a press release issued on Sunday, said, “The university has reached out to Katie to encourage her to provide information about her assault so that appropriate action could be taken. Regretfully, she has chosen not to respond to these calls.”

In the NBC interview, Hnida said she is currently “in the middle of an ongoing investigation with both the (Colorado) attorney general and some of the Boulder law enforcement,” but declined to elaborate.

“This is far from over,” she said. “This investigation is very far from being over.”

 

 
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