What a great place to go to school at.
DENVER -- A University of Colorado football player has been suspended and his girlfriend, a cross-country-track runner, has quit the sports program after being accused of sending a racist e-mail to a Hispanic cross-country runner, the school announced.
The e-mail included a reference to dragging the man behind a car, recalling an incident in 1998 in Texas when a black man was dragged to his death. The two athletes were cited for harassment and ethnic intimidation.
A news release from athletic department director Mike Bohn on Sunday made no mention of the e-mail.
It said Clint O'Neal, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound starter and senior offensive tackle from Weatherford, Texas, was suspended for violation of team and athletic department rules. Bohn did not say how long the suspension would last. Colorado plays Clemson in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 27.
He said Jackie Zeigle, a junior from South Jordan, Utah, had told the university she was quitting the cross country and track programs for personal reasons.
Bohn said privacy rules prevented the disclosure of any other information in the case other than to say the decision on O'Neal was made after several meetings over the past few days.
O'Neal is not listed in the telephone directory, and someone who answered a number listed for Zeigle picked up the phone and hung up.
The suspension announcement comes three days after football coach Gary Barnett was ousted. In addition to losing his last two games by a total score of 100-6, the program had endured a sordid recruiting scandal in which sex was allegedly used to entice athletes to come to the school.
Meanwhile, a police report said O'Neal and Zeigle, who are both white, sent the typo-filled message to Greg Castro. It called Castro a "river rat" and "border hopper" and "bean eating peace of [expletive]." The message suggested O'Neal would drag Castro behind his car.
There have been several racially tinged incidents in Boulder over the past year. The message was sent from O'Neal's account on an Internet portal for college students that requires a university e-mail address.
A black student government leader received an e-mail last month that threatened her life, prompting a campus police investigation and student rallies.
In February, those attending the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Affairs reported racist remarks, staring and poor service at an area restaurant. A student of mixed race heritage was assaulted during the spring semester as he walked near campus and suffered a broken jaw.
Police said O'Neal told them he was upset after his team lost the Big 12 championship game 70-3 to Texas. He told Zeigle to use his account and write the message. Zeigle told police she was retaliating against her teammate because he is obsessed with her and harasses her.
Police said Castro told them he felt threatened by the message and slept at a friend's house. He told the Daily Camera he doesn't harass Zeigle.
Both Zeigle and O'Neal are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 19.
By John Aguilar, Rocky Mountain News
December 12, 2005
A University of Colorado cross- country runner who received a racist e-mail last week said he was satisfied with the athletic department's decision to suspend a football player accused of helping write the message.
"They did the right thing," Greg Castro said Sunday about the action taken against offensive tackle Clint O'Neal.
Castro, who is Hispanic, received an e-mail Dec. 4 allegedly written by O'Neal and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Zeigle, in which Castro was called a "river rat," a "border hopper" and a "bean eating piece of (expletive)."
Both Zeigle, who is from Utah, and O'Neal, who is from Texas, are white.
Castro said the e-mail did little to bolster the status of the school's athletic program, which already has suffered from a football recruiting scandal and last week's ouster of football coach Gary Barnett.
"Putting on a CU uniform is a privilege," Castro said. "It's an honor to wear black and gold."
In a statement released Sunday, Athletic Director Michael Bohn said Zeigle, a senior CU runner, notified the department that "she will no longer be associated with the cross-country and track programs" and had quit "for personal reasons."
Bohn said he suspended O'Neal, a senior, for "violation of team and athletic department rules." He did not mention the e-mail in his statement.
Castro, a sophomore, said he didn't know O'Neal, who is 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, but had heard Zeigle invoke her boyfriend's name to threaten others.
Castro acknowledged that he and Zeigle didn't get along, largely because he said she tried to implicate him in a cheating scandal in a mass media class they took together last year.
But he said he was surprised at just how bitter she was toward him.
"I am still baffled by why she wrote what she did," he said.
In the e-mail, the author threatened to "come find you and drag you behind my (expletive) car," a supposed reference to a 1998 incident in which a black man was dragged to his death by three white men in Jasper, Texas.
The e-mail, a copy of which was provided by Castro to the Rocky Mountain News, was titled "U f----- S---," using a derogatory term for a Hispanic.
Zeigle told police last week that Castro had mocked her and had an "obsession" with her.
She told investigators she wrote the e-mail with her boyfriend because Castro had pushed her sister at a party on Dec. 2.
Castro denied that he had ever harassed Zeigle. He said that at the party Zeigle referred to in her conversation with police, he physically "picked up" his friend, Stephen Pifer, to remove him from an argument he was having with Laura Zeigle, Pifer's ex-girlfriend and Jacqueline Zeigle's twin sister.
Castro said he never touched either of the women.
Zeigle declined to comment Sunday, writing "leave me alone" in an e-mail in response to an inquiry from the News.
O'Neal could not be reached.
Castro said he thinks Zeigle left the cross-country team for more than personal reasons.
"It almost seems like she got out before she got pushed out," he said.
Last week, O'Neal and Zeigle were ticketed by CU police for alleged harassment and ethnic intimidation and were summoned to appear in Boulder County Court on Dec. 19.
The school's judicial affairs office also could investigate the incident and impose disciplinary measures.
Castro said he just hoped that Zeigle and O'Neal would apologize and show some remorse.
"I want them to understand that what they did was wrong," he said.
For what it's worth, it sounds like this Zeigle girl had some talent, sad...
Side by side, Laura and Jackie Zeigle run past the pavement to the soft jogging path that cuts behind their high school. Laura glides past with long, graceful strides; Jackie stands tall and straight, her arms tucked tight against her ribs.
The identical twins are hard to tell apart in the Bingham High School hallways, but they look quite different running shoulder to shoulder, each with her individual style, ponytails bobbing in unison.
In minutes, they disappear in the distance, with the Wasatch Range on the horizon. Ground fog hides the mountains’ lower slopes, leaving a row of peaks in view over the valley.
“This is supposed to be a slow run,” sighs their father, Kevin, who jogs behind them while his daughters disappear like the mountains, reappearing occasionally to make sure he’s still following.
The twins, from South Jordan, Utah, were born just minutes apart 17 years ago and have been neck-and-neck ever since. The two high school seniors are among the fastest girls in America now, a powerful pair consistently ranked among the top girls in high school track and field.
“Nobody will run with the Zeigles,” says Jeff Arbogast, their coach at Bingham High School, in this community of nearly 30,000. “As far as a dynamic duo, I don’t think anybody would disagree, there’s not a tandem like them at any high school in the country.”
Jackie is the defending national indoor champion for the mile, Laura for the two-mile. They ended their high school cross-country season the way they’ve ended plenty of races, with a one-two punch that left a pack of followers in their dust: Laura crossed the finish line first, Jackie followed seconds later.
“We were running stride for stride,” Laura recalls. “That’s cool. We were that close.”
These twins are close on the track and close in the rest of their lives. They share the same friends, the same interests, and the same religious devotion. Devout Christians, they credit God for their racing success. They train together, play together, and pray together.
“They’re each other’s best friends,” says sister Kit, 15, a Bingham High freshman runner following in her older sisters’ footsteps.
The girls’ twin passion for running not only means that each has someone to join her on those long training jaunts, but has somebody to celebrate with after a win—or comfort after a bad showing. “Sometimes bad days can get a little less bad if somebody else does well,” says Arbogast, known as “Coach Arb” to his Bingham Miners.
Last December, a back injury kept Laura from qualifying for the national high school Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. She had spent six months training for the race, which would have been her third consecutive appearance. Previously, she placed third.
Although Laura failed to qualify, she was there on race day, looking nervously for her sister in the pack and rooting her on to a seventh-place finish. “I got to cheer for her,” Laura says. “I just said, ‘This is for Jackie.’”
The pair started running at about age 7 in the South Valley Track Club, spurred on by their parents. “We opened the door for them,” says mother Laurie, a special education aide at Bingham High, but she and her husband never pushed them to run.
The girls found they had a gift for speed, often trading victories with each other. As they aged, they built up distance and trimmed their times.
Arbogast headed up the league, but he didn’t realize the twins’ potential until, as ninth-graders on his high school team, they started to beat nationally ranked runners on his boy’s varsity team. “When they started to gap my seniors by a factor of minutes in the 5K,” he says, “I thought, my main goal for the next several years will be to stay out of their way.”
He credits the Zeigles’ success to their innate abilities. The Zeigle family credits their wins to him. Arbogast, a 22-year Bingham veteran, is one of the country’s top high school running coaches. Both boys’ and girls’ teams are consistently among the top ranks, and have been for a dozen years.
For years, Laura took racing more seriously than her sister, consistently winning their one-two finishes. “I like it when she wins,” Jackie says. “It’s, like, weird when she’s behind me. Sometimes she’ll have a bad race and I’d be, like, ‘This is not right. I want her to be up there.’”
Lately, though, Jackie says she’s become more intent on running, and winning, and her times have shown it. These days, Arbogast says, “Both girls are kind of evaluated together. Now they’re a formidable duo. Either one of them can strike fear in anybody’s hearts.”
Even seated side by side, the Zeigles are hard to tell apart. They are twins in more than just their oval faces and runner’s physiques. They’re considering the same colleges, and although both say they won’t base their choices on each other’s, both expect to share the same school, maybe even the same dorm room. Even on their achievement tests, they scored just a point apart.
Almost in unison, they insist they’re “way different.” Jackie stands an inch taller; Laura cuts her straight blonde hair a couple inches shorter. Laura says Jackie is more outgoing. (Jackie denies it.) Jackie says her sister is messier. (Laura agrees.) Often, they say, they like the same things, just in different ways, much like their approaches to running.
In Jackie’s room, “TOP 5” written in racing tape on her wall is a reminder to run her fastest. Also scattered on her wall are inspirational biblical messages. Reads one: I will run and not grow weary, a prayer she sometimes utters as she trains. In Laura’s room, a Belgian newspaper clipping from last year’s world championships hangs among her own biblical verses and photos of friends, teammates, and running superstars.
Jackie and Laura are two in a fleet-footed family. Father Kevin was a high school runner and often joins them on their training runs, on foot or by bike. Brother Ian, 19, was also a runner, and Kit posts times that beat her sisters’ freshman runs.
Only their mother, Laurie, doesn’t stow running shoes in the overflowing basket by the door. “I’m just the mom who holds the water bottle and yells, ‘Go!’” she laughs.
Race footage makes up the family’s home video collection, and a tub of vitamins serves as the kitchen table centerpiece. The refrigerator door is dotted with racing bib numbers and a milk ad featuring Olympian runner Marion Jones.
One day, the girls say, they may be Olympians, too. While the Winter Olympics were staging in nearby Salt Lake City, they were thinking about future Summer Games when they might be competitors.
Before then, though, come plenty of other races, and each one gets full attention and a rigorous training regimen. Sometimes it means sprints. Sometimes it means jogs. Tonight, it means an “easy” three miles around the neighborhood with Dad, who watches as his 17-year-old twin daughters disappear before his eyes.