Colorado Cites Lawsuit for Big Jump in Insurance Costs

March 31, 2006

Liability insurance costs for Colorado’s athletic department will double next year to nearly $1.7 million, and officials say the reason is a lawsuit by two women who allege they were sexually assaulted by athletes.

The suit has been dismissed but the women are fighting to have it reinstated. 1/4

“I believe the way the policy works is we pay that amount because they are looking at possible damages related to the lawsuits,” Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano told the Daily Camera .

“If they don’t occur, I believe there is a rebate or a significant decline in the premium in future years,” he said.

The $831,000 insurance increase will kick in in the next fiscal year. This is the second consecutive year the premium has doubled, senior associate athletic director Jon Burianek said.

Colorado is struggling to balance its athletics budget and this month announced it would cut men’s tennis and eliminate 12 jobs. The premium increase is responsible for most of a nearly $1 million shortfall projected in fiscal 2007, officials said.

The lawsuit claims the school violated federal Title IX gender equity law by fostering an atmosphere that led to their alleged assaults at a 2001 off-campus party. Police investigated but no sexual assault charges were filed.

A federal judge dismissed the suit a year ago, and on March 23 he rejected their request to revive it. Attorneys for the women said they would appeal.

The suit was at the center of a university football recruiting scandal that erupted in 2004 after public disclosure of a deposition by a prosecutor who said she believed the university used sex and alcohol to lure recruits and that school officials knew it.

A grand jury investigated allegations that nine women were assaulted by football players or recruits, but declined to file charges in part because of the reluctance of any of the women to come forward.

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