BOULDER, Colo. – A student video made in 2001 shows University of Colorado (search) football players saying their coaches encouraged them to cultivate relationships with police for special treatment, a Denver television station reported.
The videotaped interviews were conducted by then-journalism student Billi Hazle for a class project.
"It's all about who you know. I think that's what coach (Gary) Barnett is trying to come to," former player Brandon Drumm says in the interview, which aired Thursday night on Denver station KUSA-TV.
Drumm, a starting fullback at the time, told Hazle their coaches encouraged them to ride with officers on patrol.
Another former player, Jake Jones, explained that players tried to get to know officers by going on "ride-alongs" with them in case they ran into them later.
"If we get in an argument or something, the cop will come, he might believe you more, give you a break, cause like, he'll believe you, he's met you before," Jones said on the tape.
Former player Albus Brooks gave a similar account. "You do build relationships with cops, so maybe if you get pulled over, it's like, 'Oh, what's up?"' Brooks said, explaining how a conversation with an officer might go.
"What's up, yeah? Let's kick it. That's cool. Are we cool? I don't have to get a ticket? All right," Brooks said.
Hazle said Friday that she had worked at KUSA as an intern and decided to give it the story this week. After it was made in 2001, it had been shown on NewsTeam Boulder, a program on a public-access cable station. It won a regional student Emmy award.
"The perception for all six players was, you do 'ride-alongs,' become friends with the police officers, then they will look the other way before you get in trouble," said Hazle, who is now a page for the Colorado Legislature.
Athletic director Dick Tharp denied the athletes' allegations.
"I can't explain to you why those statements were made or what context they would have been in, but I'm confident our coaches never convey the impression you're going to get special treatment," Tharp said.
Police Chief Mark Beckner said all kinds of people participate in ride-alongs, and they don't result in special privileges.
The university's football program is at the center of a scandal that includes allegations of rape and accusations that athletic recruits were lured to the Boulder school with sex and alcohol.
Three women have filed lawsuits contending the university fostered an environment that led to their rape by football athletes at or after a 2001 off-campus party. Also, Barnett was suspended for criticizing a female former player who alleges a teammate raped her, saying the woman was "not only a girl" but a "terrible" player.
Barnett has apologized for his comments, which he said were taken out of context and misinterpreted.