FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado State University announced Thursday that it retained Husch Blackwell LLP to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of racial inequality within the Athletic Department.
The investigation also looked into allegations that the football program and other intercollegiate athletic teams failed to comply with return-to-sport protocols implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investigation concluded the following:
“There is no dispute that the football team initially incurred the highest number of positive test results among student-athletes and some members of the team did not always strictly adhere to the protocols, especially outside of team activities. However, most witnesses with direct knowledge of the team’s day-to-day activities observed the coaching staff providing consistent encouragement to comply with the protocols. Most members of the football program believed Head Coach Addazio and his coaching staff took the protocols seriously and did not threaten or pressure players to hide symptoms or participate while feeling unwell.”
There were a wide variety of opinions, first-hand accounts and either concern or no concern with the way protocols were being handled. You can read the full report above.
Director of athletics Joe Parker said in a statement he embraces the investigation. He said the report that student-athletes were instructed to withhold symptoms would “run counter to repeated communications we have had with our staff and student-athletes.”
“This is unacceptable and will be dealt with swiftly,” Parker maintained.
The firm also completed an independent investigation into racism within the Athletic Department.
It concluded that, “we believe that perceptions of the racial climate on individual teams and within the Athletic Department have been shaped by recent national events and the resulting discourse around racial justice and equity. Student-athletes and staff expressed their collective expectation that the Athletic Department will take meaningful steps to address and eliminate any conduct based on racial bias and stereotypes, or any systemic inequities, which may have been ignored or tolerated
in the past.”
The firm recommends the following for CSU:
- Develop a system for student-athletes to report concerns to an employee outside of the Athletic Department (e.g., ombudsperson or Office of Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX), and actively encourage reporting
- Continue or supplement diversity and inclusion training University-wide, with a special focus on the Athletics Department, to advance empathy-building, racial sensitivity and cultural understanding
- Amplify the University’s policy statement against retaliation within the Athletic Department.