Recap: Altman will return to Oregon men’s basketball, Dotson, Artis and Austin will not

Following the Eugene Police Department’s release of a report detailing the alleged rape of a University of Oregon student by three members of the men’s basketball team, President Michael Gottfredson announced on May 9 that Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin “will not play basketball at Oregon again.” Dana Altman will remain as the team’s head coach.

The athletic department released a statement on May 5 that the players had been suspended from the team. Later that day, the Eugene Police Department released a 24-page report detailing a sexual assault allegedly committed by Dotson, Artis and Austin on March 9. The survivor reported the alleged assault to the EPD on March 13.

The three players told investigators that they believed sex with the woman was consensual. The EPD case was dismissed by the district attorney on April 14 for lack of sufficient evidence to prove charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Gottfredson said during May 9 the press conference that the players’ actions were “utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Dotson and Artis played two games in the NCAA tournament while the investigation was ongoing. Austin, a transfer from Providence College, was not eligible to play because of his transfer status.

Gottfredson knew the identities of the players before the NCAA tournament. Athletic director Rob Mullens and Altman did not know the identities of the players or the nature of the investigation, Mullens said during the press conference. The university administration approved the players’ participation in the tournament.

Altman said during another press conference on May 9 that he first learned of the investigation the day before the NCAA tournament. He did not know the severity of the allegations.

He said the later decision to remove the players from the team was impacted by outside pressure on the athletic department to do so.

“I think there would be a lot of pressure here at Oregon if they return and try to play basketball,” Altman said.

The university first learned of the incident on March 9 when the father of the alleged survivor called to report the incident. The University of Oregon Police Department attempted to contact the survivor twice but was unable to reach her.

EPD requested that UO postpone the university investigation until the police investigation concluded in order to not interfere with the criminal investigation.

It is uncertain why the university did not begin its investigation in the five days between learning of the incident from the survivor’s father and the beginning of the EPD investigation. According to an April White House report on protecting students from sexual assault, “criminal investigation does not relieve a school of its independent obligation to conduct its own investigation — nor may a school wait for a criminal case to conclude to proceed.”

The administration’s perceived lack of transparency in handling the case spurred protests in front of Johnson Hall on May 8 and 9. Another protest is planned for May 12. The administration said that though it heard and intended to answer the community’s questions, it is limited by the Family Education and Rights Privacy Act, which dictates that universities and colleges can’t disclose information from student cases unless a student is found guilty of a sexual or violent crime.

Austin is also currently under investigation for sexual assault at Providence College. Austin was suspended from the Providence basketball team in November for an undisclosed violation of student conduct code. In January, he transferred to Oregon to play for the basketball team. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that the Providence violation stemmed from a sexual assault allegation.

Mullens and Altman both say they were unaware of the accusations of Austin at Providence.

“We were not aware,” Mullens said. “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.”

During the May 9 press conference, Gottfredson also announced the formation of a committee to review recruiting practices.

The UO’s investigation is ongoing.

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Samantha Matsumoto

Samantha Matsumoto