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UO files motion to dismiss third amended complaint in lawsuits filed by former Oregon basketball players

The University of Oregon issued its latest response to the lawsuits filed by three former Oregon basketball players on Friday, Dec. 2, court documents show.

Plaintiffs Brandon Austin, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson had filed lawsuits against UO claiming their due process rights under the 14th Amendment were violated when they were dismissed from the university following accusations of sexual assault against a female student in May 2014.

The UO on Friday motioned to dismiss the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs’ motion “does not set forth sufficient grounds for reconsideration.”

After a judge dismissed the players’ lawsuits in September, their attorneys redrafted the pleadings to argue that a court case filed in 1976 set relevant precedent to establish a property interest in the plaintiffs’ athletic scholarships and undergraduate education. The case, Stretten vs. Wadsworth Veterans Hospital, 537 F2d 361 (9th Cir 1976), found that a medical resident’s four-year employment contract conferred a property interest for the duration of the contract, and thus could not be terminated early without due process of law.

But the UO’s response argues that Stretton does not clearly establish a constitutional interest in athletic scholarships or undergraduate education because it is not a case about college athletics or university education.

“Plaintiffs cite no case law or statute — and none exist in our jurisdiction — that equates an athletic scholarship to an employment contract, or that holds that an athletic scholarship confers a constitutionally protected property interest,” the UO’s response states.

The plaintiffs had pointed to a clause in their athletic scholarships which stated that financial assistance “may be changed or terminated only in accordance with legislation of the NCAA.” But the UO argues that the the period of the plaintiffs’ scholarships was one academic year, and renewal was not guaranteed; therefore, the contracts were not terminated early.

The UO’s response also states that the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint “fails to remedy the shortcomings of the Second Amended Complaint,” which the court had dismissed because “nothing in the complaint or incorporated documents suggests that the actions of the University were motivated by gender bias or that the University deprived Plaintiffs of a due process right.”

Neither Austin’s attorneys nor Artis and Dotson’s attorneys could immediately be reached for comment.

Austin’s lawsuit, which was filed in October 2014, seeks $7.5 million from the defendants, which include the University of Oregon, former president Michael Gottfredson, former vice president of student life and interim dean of students Robin Holmes and two other individuals. Artis and Dotson’s lawsuit, filed in March 2015, seeks $10 million each from the defendants.

The UO settled with the alleged victim of sexual assault in August 2015 for $800,000 and a full scholarship after she accused the UO of violating her Title IX rights. The UO settled for $425,000 in July 2016 with two former UO counseling center employees, who claimed the UO had obtained a copy of the alleged victim’s therapy records during her sessions at the counseling center.

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Kenny Jacoby

Kenny Jacoby

Kenny is the senior sports editor for the Emerald. He spent two years studying computer and information science before changing his major to journalism. He also freelances for the Register-Guard, interns for the Eugene Weekly and works as a research assistant for UO journalism professor Seth Lewis.