DENVER — The University of Colorado announced Wednesday that it would pay $2.85 million to settle lawsuits filed by two women who said they were raped by football players, closing the book on a scandal that tarnished the school's athletic department and led to the departure of its chancellor.
The assaults allegedly occurred in 2001 when a group of football players and recruits crashed an off-campus party in Boulder. The lawsuits contended that the incident was sparked by a hostile atmosphere created by the school's use of alcohol, drugs and sex to lure top athletes.
In 2004, during the height of the furor, seven women came forward to say they had been raped by football players since 1997. No charges were filed, but a university panel found that women and alcohol had been procured for football prospects.
The athletic director, chancellor of UC-Boulder and president of the entire university system eventually left. The football team's head coach later accepted a buyout after losing the 2005 Big 12 championship game.
"We are a very different university today," Hank Brown, president of the University of Colorado system, said at a news conference Wednesday. In a later interview, he added that he hoped the settlement "closes the book on it and helps us get focused on our primary mission."
The settlement, which the school agreed to without admitting fault or liability, includes the addition of an extra staff member to the school's office of victim assistance, which provided help and counseling to the plaintiffs after the alleged assaults. It also called for the creation of an independent Title IX office to ensure that the school followed federal requirements for gender equality in its athletics program.
Kimberley Hult, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, said it had always been a top priority "to make sure something like this didn't happen to another young woman. . . . We're very pleased with the changes the university has made."