UO responds to $7.5 million lawsuit filed by former basketball player Brandon Austin

Former University of Oregon men’s basketball player Brandon Austin is suing the university for $7.5 million in damages. 

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Alan C. Milstein of New Jersey and Marianne Dugan of Eugene, claims personal and professional harm, emotional distress and loss of future income through a lesser chance of playing in the National Basketball Association.

The suit also claims that multiple members of the University of Oregon staff, including former president Michael R. Gottfredson, violated Austin’s rights by suspending him unfairly and not providing due process.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Austin has decided to pursue this type of lawsuit, and we intend to vigorously defend the university. We’re confident Mr. Austin was afforded fair and consistent due process that fully complied with the university’s legal obligations. We cannot provide further comment because this is pending litigation,” Senior Director of Public Affairs Communications Tobin Klinger said in a statement.

Austin was suspended in the spring of 2014 after a sexual assault claim. The alleged sexual assault took place after the Ducks’ victory over Arizona in the final game of the regular season. Teammates Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson were also accused of the sexual assault, but charges were never filed against any of them. Lane County District Attorney cited “conflicting statements and actions by the victim,” as a reason not to press charges.

The sexual assault took place late at night at a house party on March 9, according to the police report. Reportedly, the three men complimented the woman before leading her down the hall and into a bathroom. The report states that the basketball players tried to pull off her shorts, and that Austin was the most aggressive of the three, even going as far as to take her cellphone from her when she tried to use it.

All three players were dismissed from the university and banned from campus for up to 10 years in June of 2014.

Austin’s lawsuit claims that the university essentially knew the female student was lying about the sexual assault. The lawsuit states, “Astonishingly, Oregon’s counsel contacted Mr. Austin’s counsel, in essence admitted that Oregon believed the female student was not telling the truth about the sexual assault, and asked for Mr. Austin’s help in defending the suit.”

Though the sexual assault reportedly took place on March 9 the victim didn’t approach police until March 14. She told her father about the assault the day of the event and he contacted UO Police Department. The Eugene Police Department stated that UOPD contacted the victim multiple times during that period, but she never returned calls.

The investigation lasted for over a month before the Lane Country District Attorney notified EPD that they would not file criminal charges on April 14. The university conducted a legal review of the case shortly afterward, which led to the three players’ eventual suspension on May 1.

The lawsuit also states that Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes was tasked with hearing an appeal from Austin but, “refused to respond to Mr. Austin’s request for an appeal and did not return multiple phone calls from Mr. Austin’s counsel, in violation of Mr. Austin’s right to procedural and substantive due process.”

Austin also faced sexual assault claims at his prior school, Providence, before eventually being cleared in July of 2014. He transferred to Oregon soon after.

After being dismissed from Oregon, Austin finished his college career at Northwest Florida State.

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Kyle Wizner

Kyle Wizner