Oregon boots three players
Three Oregon basketball players who were investigated but not charged in an alleged sexual assault have been dismissed from the team.
Damyean Dotson, 19, Dominic Artis, 19; and Brandon Austin, 18, were suspended after the school received a police report concerning allegations made by a student who said she was assaulted by the players in early March. School officials announced Friday that the players would not return to the Ducks because of conduct that is not befitting of student athletes.
The Lane County district attorney’s office investigated the allegations and determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the players on criminal charges.
"They will not be playing basketball at Oregon again," said university President Michael Gottfredson, who appeared at Friday’s press conference along with Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes and athletic director Rob Mullens.
While Oregon was informed of the allegations after the woman’s father called police on March 9, school and team officials were asked not to take action so as not to interfere with the police investigation, Gottfredson and Mullens said. Two of the athletes subsequently played in NCAA tournament games for the Ducks.
Mullens said he did not know which players were under investigation when the team played in the postseason tournament.
Oregon received the final police report April 24, and the three students were suspended shortly thereafter.
"When you read the police report, it’s very clear it was conduct that isn’t befitting of an Oregon student athlete," Mullens said Friday. "I don’t want to get into specifics but it was very clear to us those were individuals we didn’t want representing our organization."
Brandon Austin’s attorney, Laura Fine Moro, had no comment. Neither did Shaun McCrea on behalf of Damyean Dotson. Greg Veralrud, attorney for Dominic Artis, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The woman, a university student, met the players at a party on March 8, the same night the Ducks beat No. 3 Arizona in the final game of the regular season, and before they went on to the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments. The woman’s father called police the next day.
Eugene police made public a 24-page report on Monday detailing the accusations, in which the athletes said sexual relations with the student were consensual. District Attorney Alex Gardner on Tuesday released a three-page explanation for the decision not to bring charges in the case, citing conflicting actions and statements by the victim.
After the allegations surfaced earlier this week, the school said the players were not participating in team activities but would not elaborate. The school had cited federal privacy laws in not commenting further on the status of the players.
While Oregon released a statement earlier this week saying that the school was conducting an internal inquiry, the handling of the alleged assault sparked protests on campus, including one Thursday that drew more than 100 people, many of whom accused the school of holding athletes to a different standard.
Gottfredson said the university plans to take additional action next week to address the university’s response to sexual assaults.
"Our students’ safety and security is our top priority," he said. "We have strong policies and protocols in place, and we are working to make them stronger still."
Gottfredson said the school would continue "to pursue all appropriate action in this case." It was unclear whether the athletes faced expulsion.
Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, coach Dana Altman said the decision to dismiss the athletes from the team was ultimately made in the "best interest" of the players, the team and the university because of the intense scrutiny they faced. The players were no longer on campus.
He also said he did not know the nature of the allegations leveled at the players before the team left for the postseason games.
It is the second sexual assault allegation Austin has faced. While at Providence College, he and another Providence player were accused last year of sexually assaulting a female student on campus. The two were suspended and Austin subsequently transferred to Oregon. He had to sit out a calendar year under NCAA transfer rules.
Altman said Friday that in retrospect he should have questioned Austin more closely about why he was leaving Providence.
Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office, said this week that that case remains under investigation.
Oregon went 24-10 last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Seven seniors and two transfers have already left the team since its third-round tournament loss to Wisconsin on March 22.
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