Oregon had three separate Monday morning headlines, when it was reported Dominic Artis was transferring, then a statement that Brandon Austin was not participating in team activities – and then finally that Damyean Dotson was joining Artis and Austin in the non-participant group.
On Monday night, we got the reason: Dotson and his two teammates were suspended on the heels of a rape investigation that was not prosecuted due to a lack of evidence.
The timeline of when Oregon found out and decided to suspend the players is still unclear, but there has already been a noticeable impact on the Ducks' recruiting efforts for next season.
Former California signee Ahmaad Rorie (No. 116 in 247Sports Composite) is back on the market after decommitting from the Bears due to the coaching change, and he was expected to take a trip to Oregon. After visiting Washington on Monday, though, Rorie announced he was canceling his visit to Oregon. He decided to visit Washington State instead.
Rorie isn't the only one.
Houston transfer Tashawn Thomas had three primary schools on his list: Miami, Oklahoma and Oregon. He visited Miami last weekend, is expected to visit Oklahoma this week – but will not be going to Eugene.
A source close to the recruitment told CBSSports.com that this week's news factored into the decision.
“That has something to do with it,” the source said.
The mentor to another potential transfer target said they were also questioning whether to continue considering the Ducks.
This shouldn't be a surprise. It's a mess at Oregon right now, and it's not close to being resolved. As Gary Parrish wrote earlier Thursday, there are still questions to be answered by Dana Altman and the athletic department. Primarily, why did Artis and Dotson play in the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament after the university was made aware of the allegations on March 9?
Austin was already sitting out after transferring from Providence – but Altman had taken a chance on him, as Austin was linked to a sexual assault case in November back when he was with the Friars.
Not to say Altman is suddenly on the hot seat, but he certainly does have some questions to answers.
Talented high school prospects and transfer targets don't want to go to uncertain situations when they have other options. The mood in Eugene isn't one of optimism right now, and that undoubtedly will have an impact on whether kids want to play for the Ducks.
That doesn't even take into account the current roster. If you include Artis, Austin and Dotson, that would be 10 players that have departed since the end of the season. Five used up their eligibility, while two transferred. It's hard to imagine Altman bringing these three players back, either. Only three scholarship players return from last season, and Altman will have to rely heavily on six newcomers.
“They are going to be in a tough spot now because there will be a lot of schools who will bring this up when discussing a recruit's options,” said Matt Prehm, who runs the Oregon 247Sports site. “The fact the three players are all expected to be removed from the team helps, but the sting and PR hit will be hard to overcome.”
It seems like the players that were planning to play there next season are staying, and Prehm did report that 2015 commit Kendall Small (No. 56 in 247Sports Composite) is also still an Oregon pledge – barring a coaching change.
But there are only nine scholarship players on the roster for next season, and they will lose rising seniors Joseph Young and Jalil Abdul-Bassit. As a result, instead of needing just a couple of players to fill the roster holes, Altman could need up to six recruits in the class of 2015.
“For the fifth year in a row, Altman will have to drastically revamp his roster, and most likely will be required to do it via junior colleges and prep kids,” Prehm said.
Altman has done well with transfers, and no one really had an issue with the revolving door aspect of it because he was winning games and getting talented players. Now, the Ducks have a significant problem on their hands – with a cloud over the program.
And as a result, potential recruits are running away from the cloud.