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McConnell expands athletics investigation after racism allegations

Following recent news of an alleged cover up of coronavirus symptoms within the football program, Colorado State University’s athletics department is under even more scrutiny. 

According to two statements from CSU Athletic Director Joe Parker and President Joyce McConnell, CSU has paused all football activities and expanded their investigation into the football program and the athletics department after hearing allegations of racism and verbal abuse. 


In his statement published to the athletics website Friday evening, Parker said he recently learned of “allegations of racism and verbal abuse from CSU’s athletic administration generally and in the football program specifically.”

Parker reiterated a statement frequently seen in McConnell’s emails, stating, “Colorado State University is committed to being an anti-racist university, and we will not tolerate any behavior or climate that goes against that core value.”

An hour after Parker’s statement was published, McConnell sent an email to the student body informing them of these allegations and the actions the University is taking. 

McConnell said Parker asked her to expand the independent investigation she launched after learning of the allegations about a COVID-19 cover-up to include “a comprehensive review of our athletic department and football program specifically related to allegations of racism and verbal abuse.” 

McConnell also shared the message she sent to student-athletes Aug. 5 announcing the Kansas City, Missouri-based law firm Husch Blackwell as the firm that will conduct the investigation. In that message, McConnell emphasized that any attempt to interfere with the investigation would not be tolerated. 

“Any attempts to retaliate against, pressure or intimidate individuals who participate in the investigation will not be tolerated,” McConnell wrote. “Should that occur, I urge anyone aware of such behavior to report that conduct to the investigators or to my office immediately.”  

Neither statement included information expanding on the allegations or where they came from. 

The Collegian is investigating this issue further and will follow up with more information as soon as possible.

Serena Bettis can be reached at or on Twitter @serenaroseb. 


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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at

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