Oregon dismisses three players involved in rape investigation

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Dominic Artis, left, and Damyean Dotson, right, are done playing hoops at Oregon. (USATSI)

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Oregon officials announced at a Friday press conference that the school has dismissed Damyean Dotson, Brandon Austin and Dominic Artis from the basketball team.

"I felt that it was in the best interest of the university, that it was in the best interest of those three young men, and the best interest of our basketball program," Oregon coach Dana Altman said of the dismissal.

All three players were named in an extensive and graphic police report regarding an alleged rape that took place March 8. That case has since been closed and no charges were filed. The players were initially suspended on April 30, the day Oregon AD Robert Mullens and Altman read the EPD's report.

"It was very clear to us that those were individuals we didn't want representing our organization," Mullens said.

Charges against Dotson -- the only player charged initially -- were dropped 16 days prior, on April 14.

Altman said the only contact regarding the police investigation he had throughout the entire process was Mullens. He said he did not know it was a criminal investigation at first, and that Mullens first told him an "incident was being investigated" by local police the Monday before the NCAA tournament.

That was March 17, three days before the Ducks' Round of 64 game againt BYU in the NCAA Tournament.

Mullens, Oregon president Michael Gottfredson and Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes spoke three and a half hours prior to Altman's press conference to offer answers and information surrounding the case involving the three players; why they continued to play after the incident; and when Oregon athletic officials knew about the events in question the night of March 8.

Gottfredson said the school has scheduled a review of Oregon basketball's recruiting methods, a review that will be done by a committee not affiliated with the univeresity.

"As the president of this university I am angry and disappointed," Gottfredson said. "We would like to say more but we are not going to violate the laws that protect student privacy."

Gottfredson added that Oregon "took immediate action" when it learned of the incident "but complied with Eugene Police's request not to do anything, including suspend players."

Gottfredson's contention about a lack of discipline for the players is consistent with the school's statement on the matter earlier in the week, though the Eugene Police Department subsequently said law enforcement did not instruct the university to delay discipline for the players.

When the team learned of the allegations against Dotson, Artis and Austin, Mullens said they did not know which players were involved, and that Altman and Mullens first looked at the police report April 30. Within 24 hours of seeing the report, all three players were indefinitely suspended.

That police report was made public earlier this week.

Altman said he did not know initially this was a rape investigation, only that "there was just an incident" and did not know details. When asked if he would have suspended the trio if he'd known then what he does now, Altman responded, "It's hard to deal in what-ifs, especially in a situation like this."

Mullens announced on Friday that Altman's job is safe and that he would stay on as Ducks coach. Altman said at his press conference that he's not worried or feared that his job was in jeopardy throughout this process.

"As a father, who has son and a father hwo has daugther, any family man would be greatly disappointed," Altman said of the alleged incidents from March 8.

Mullens also told reporters the school was not aware of an ongoing investigation into a sexual assault allegation against Austin from last November, when Austin was at Providence. Austin, who was suspended for the year at PC, transferred to Oregon in January.

Regarding Austin's history, Altman said he spoke with Providence coach Ed Cooley, Austin's family and Austin about his history.

"I had every confidence after speaking with the family that there was nothing that would prevent him from playing for Oregon," Altman said. "He did not give specifics ... my line of questioning probably did not go deep enough there, in retrospect."

Including players graduating, the dismissal of Dotson, Artis and Austin -- and transfers from A.J. Lapray and Ben Carter -- the Ducks will have 11 players from their 2013-14 roster not on the team next season.

 
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