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NCAA Grants Female Kicker an Extra Season

New Mexico's Katie Hnida, whose illness sidetracked her historic career and whose accusation of rape shook her former Colorado team, gets medical waiver.

March 27, 2004|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

Katie Hnida, the first woman to play in a Division I-A football game, was awarded an extra season of eligibility at New Mexico by the NCAA on Friday. Her eligibility was to have expired after the 2003 season, but the NCAA granted her request for a medical waiver.

Earlier this year, Hnida said she was raped by a teammate and harassed by other players while a walk-on at Colorado in 2000. Hers is one of several charges of assault linked to the Colorado football program.

In February, Colorado Coach Gary Barnett was suspended indefinitely for criticizing Hnida's play. Barnett had said she was "not only a girl" but also a "terrible" player. She sat out the 1999 and 2000 seasons because of mononucleosis and severe throat and tonsil infections, then left Colorado. She spent a school year at a junior college, then transferred to New Mexico in 2002 and walked onto the football team.

Hnida made her historic debut when she attempted an extra point for the Lobos in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl against UCLA. Her kick was blocked. She made two extra points during a 72-8 victory over Texas State San Marcos last Aug. 30.

"As an athlete, you never look forward to the day when you put on the uniform for the last time," Hnida said in a statement released by the university. "I was hoping that day had not come for me. I am thrilled to be back with my teammates. I feel honored and blessed to be a Lobo for another season. I'm really eager to rejoin the team."

Hnida said last month that playing for the Lobos had helped her rebound from "the horrors I've endured over the past few years."

Said New Mexico Coach Rocky Long in a statement: "We're happy that Katie will be a member of the Lobo football team for another season. I know it means a lot to her and her family."

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