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Parents of CU football players back Barnett

'Give us back our coach!' one says

Peter Schaub speaks in support of Barnett as other CU players' parents listen on Sunday.
Peter Schaub speaks in support of Barnett as other CU players' parents listen on Sunday.

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CNN's Adrian Baschuk reports on CU players' parents coming to the defense of embattled coach Gary Barnett.
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CNN's Josie Burke says the character of Barnett is being questioned.
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University of Colorado

BOULDER, Colorado (CNN) -- The parents of about 30 University of Colorado football players held a news conference Sunday to voice support for suspended Coach Gary Barnett and to complain about news media coverage of a series of rape allegations against CU players.

"It has been our experience that Coach Barnett is a man of utmost integrity and has our whole-hearted support," the parents said in a statement read by Ronnie Gordon, mother of a CU player. "We are proud to have our sons as part of the football program at the University of Colorado. Give us back our coach!"

The football program has been rocked by six allegations of rape against CU players since 2000, as well as other claims that the football team used sex parties to lure recruits and allegations that the athletic department may be linked to an escort service.

No charges have been filed in connection with any of the allegations.

Barnett was suspended Wednesday after he criticized the only woman to ever play on the football team -- the same day she came forward with allegations she was raped by a teammate and constantly harassed by members of the team.

"We are disgusted and angry with the allegations that have come out in regards to our son's leaders, Coach Barnett, and how absurd and ridiculous it is that he or any member of his coaching staff would ever involve alcohol or sex parties to entice a student athlete to attend this fine institution," said Bob Creighton, leader of the parents group.

While about 40 parents attended the news conference at a Boulder hotel Sunday afternoon, eight of them spoke.

"We hope for a quick resolution so they can go back to being students," said parent Brad Littlehouse. "That is why they are really here."

Ronnie Gordon, whose son Stefan Robinson is on the team, said news reports of the investigation have made all CU players appear to be suspects.

"It's not fair that when they walk through the mall they have to take off all of their CU stuff because they're looked at as a rapist or a sex offender," Gordon said.

School President Elizabeth Hoffman said Barnett can have his job back if the allegations of rape and other misconduct against his players don't represent "a pervasive culture in the football program and the athletic department."

The university named Brian Cabral, an assistant coach of 15 years, to be the interim head coach pending the outcome of the current investigation.

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