UO President Michael Gottfredson announces Altman will remain but Dotson, Artis and Austin ‘will not play basketball at Oregon again’
University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson announced on Friday that Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin will no longer play for the Oregon men’s basketball team. Dana Altman will remain as head basketball coach. The action follows the Eugene Police Department’s public release of a report that the three players were accused of rape in March.
“We received the police report on April 24,” Gottfredson said in a prepared statement. “That enabled us to take action without jeopardizing a criminal investigation. Not all actions the university takes are disclosable. However, working with the UO Athletic Department, we took the following action: The three student-athletes were suspended. They will not be playing basketball at Oregon again.”
Artis, Dotson and Austin were the subject of an EPD rape investigation when the alleged survivor reported an assault on March 14, thus leading the University of Oregon to announce that they would no longer be participating in Oregon athletics.
“When you read the police report it is very clear that it is conduct that isn’t befitting of a university of Oregon student athlete,” Athletic Director Rob Mullens said.
The police department asked the UO to abstain from taking action in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation. The Lane County district attorney dismissed the case because of insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Artis and Dotson competed in both the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments while the investigation was happening. Austin isn’t eligible to play until this December because of his transfer status.
Gottfredson said that he knew the identities of the players before the NCAA tournament. Athletic Director Rob Mullens said he did not.
The Oregonian reported on Thursday that Altman knew his players were under investigation before he let them participate in the NCAA tournament. However, he did not have their identities, according to Mullens. University officials approved the players’ participation.
University officials received the report on April 24, 10 days after the the district attorney dismissed the case. Gottfredson said that the administration began its own investigation. The players were suspended from the team on April 30, according to Mullens. The announcement of their suspensions came on May 5, hours before the police report was released to the public.
Gottfredson also announced the formation of an independent committee to investigate recruiting practices, among other things.
“Until we have a campus where everyone feels safe … we will not consider it good enough,” Gottfredson said.
Gottfredson had announced on April 3 that the university was renewing its commitment to preventing sexual violence. The Coalition to End Sexual Violence led a protest outside of Johnson Hall on Thursday afternoon. Coalition leaders announced plans to march outside the building every day at noon.
Gottfredson said the players’ actions as detailed in the report were “utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
“I understand and sympathize with the outrage that people feel. I’m angry and disappointed over this profoundly disturbing incident,” he said.
The university’s investigation is ongoing.
“We can’t comment directly on the investigation,” Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes said during the press conference.
The Family Education and Rights Privacy Act dictates that universities and colleges can’t disclose information from student cases unless a student is found guilty of a sexual or violent crime.
The alleged assault occurred early in the morning of March 9 at two locations: Twice in a bathroom at Johnathan Loyd’s house and again at an apartment leased to Artis and Dotson.
Austin is also under investigation in Rhode Island for alleged sexual assault he committed while attending Providence College. That incident occurred in November and was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in March as the NCAA tournament was set to begin. He transferred to Oregon on Jan. 7, however Mullens noted that he was not aware of the accusations aimed at him.
“We were not aware,” Mullens said in regards to Austin’s transfer. “I do feel that a process was thorough, Coach Altman talked to the prior institution’s coach. The information that was relayed was somewhat limited because of law.”
Here’s Gottfredson’s statement in full:
“Sexual violence, assault, and harassment have no place on our campus or anywhere in our community. None. Ever.
The type of behavior in the police report released this week is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
I understand and empathize with the outrage people feel—as a father, I was appalled at what I read. As president of this university, I am angry and disappointed over this profoundly disturbing incident.
As you know, there are many details of this case that we cannot talk about. We can not discuss the specifics of this case, or any other case involving students. I know it’s frustrating, and we would like to say more, but we are not going to violate the laws that are in place to protect students’ privacy or the rights of our students—especially the survivor.
Here is what I can tell you:
– When the university was made aware of the incident, we immediately began our investigation and activated our established process of support and service. Immediately.
– We cooperated completely with law enforcement. The Eugene Police Department requested we not do anything that might hinder their criminal investigation—including suspending players or not playing them in a game. We complied fully with that request, and appropriately so.
– That does not mean we did nothing during that time. It simply means that we refrained, at the request of Eugene Police, from doing anything that might have alerted the persons the police told us not to alert to the investigation. Throughout, we continued to follow other steps of our regular process of investigation, and to provide support services, as we do for all such matters.
– We received the police report on April 24. That enabled us to take action without jeopardizing a criminal investigation. Not all actions the university takes are disclosable. However, working with the UO Athletic Department, we took the following action: The three student-athletes were suspended. They will not be playing basketball at Oregon again.
– We have, and we will continue, to pursue all appropriate action in this case. We have clear, established policies and protocols that we follow in all such cases.
– When and if we can share additional information, I assure you we will.
In the meantime, it is my great hope that we, as a university community, will take this opportunity to address the broader issues of sexual violence and harassment directly, openly, and decisively.
As a community, we need to engage in frank, productive discussions that will help eradicate such violence from our campus. Because even one instance of sexual assault in our community is too many.
Over the past few days, I have talked with students all across campus, to hear their feelings and concerns. Yesterday, I met with faculty members of the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence, to gain their perspective and talk about how the campus can most effectively work together to end sexual violence in our community.
We have great expertise on our faculty, and we will draw on that and turn to them to help improve our response, support, and prevention practices.
We have a student body of caring, conscientious young people who want a safe and respectful community.
We will do whatever it takes to create a safe, secure environment for all our students, and foster a culture of respect and shared values on our campus. Our university will not tolerate behavior that runs counter to these values.
I am encouraged by the attention the problem of sexual assault on college campuses has received recently on a national level, as outlined in the recent report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. This is an important step toward the kinds of deep cultural change that must take place to stop such violence on our campuses.
But the actions taking place nationally are not nearly enough. We must address this problem here on our owncampus and within our own community. We must take this opportunity to rise above the fray and become leaders in the fight to eradicate sexual violence from college campuses, beginning with our own.
Last fall, we commissioned an external review of our sexual misconduct policies and protocols, and we have already implemented or are in the process of implementing all of the recommendations of that report, including adding staff to support students who have experienced sexual violence. We have that report available for you.
Next week, I will announce details of an additional independent review I have ordered jointly with our Athletic Director and Vice President for Student Affairs to examine our practices for preventing and responding to sexual violence. We will appoint an independent panel, whose charge will include an examination of our athletic department’s recruitment practices, and a campus climate survey to learn more about the culture of our own campus community when it comes to sexual violence and harassment.
Our students’ safety and security is our top priority. We have strong policies and protocols in place, and we are working to make them stronger still.
Until we have a campus where every individual feels safe, where everyone is respected, and where no instance of sexual violence is tolerated, we will not consider it good enough.
This is a difficult time for our community, especially for those whose lives have been directly affected by sexual violence. As a university, we will take this time as an opportunity to make our campus safer, our community stronger, and our intolerance of sexual violence in any form clear and unequivocal.”
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