The University of Oregon has banned three basketball players from the university for at least four years after a university investigation found them responsible for sexual misconduct, The Register-Guard, a newspaper in Eugene, Ore., reported.
The three athletes have been at the center of a controversy over the campus’s handling of sexual-assault complaints since it became known that they had been allowed to play in the NCAA basketball tournament, in March, while the Eugene police were still investigating a female student’s report that they had raped her. University officials have said that, at the time, the police asked them not to take any action that would alert the players to the police investigation.
The athletes have contended that their sexual activities with the woman were consensual, and a local prosecutor decided in April not to press charges, citing a lack of evidence.
The university, while pursuing its own investigation of possible violations of the student-conduct code, suspended the players from the basketball team in May but not from the university. A university spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that, following the conclusion of that investigation, the athletes had been suspended from the campus for a minimum of four years and possibly as many as 10.
A lawyer for the players said in a statement released Monday night that he was not surprised by the suspensions, even though a “wealth of evidence” supported the claim that the sex was consensual. He suggested that the student-conduct investigation had been compromised by the university president’s decision in May to suspend the athletes from the team.
Carol Stabile, director of the university’s Center for the Study of Women in Society, said suspending the players was the right thing to do, as a campus-safety measure. She noted, however, that the action had done nothing to dispel other questions that victims’ advocates and others have been asking about the university’s policies. Those questions include why the university had recruited one of the athletes while he was under suspension from Providence College, in Rhode Island, after being investigated for sexual assault there.