Oregon president tosses 3 off basketball team

University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson, May 9, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson, May 9, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

EUGENE, Ore. (KOIN 6) —Three basketball players implicated in rape allegations were kicked off the team by University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson Friday morning.

He made the announcement at a news conference regarding claims three University of Oregon basketball players raped a UO student earlier this year.

“They will not be playing basketball at Oregon again,” said Gottfredson, who appeared at Friday’s press conference along with Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes and athletic director Rob Mullens.

While Oregon was informed of the allegations, school and team officials were asked not to take action so as not to interfere with the police investigation. Two of the athletes subsequently played in NCAA tournament games for the Ducks.

Mullens said he did not know which players were under investigation when the team played in the postseason tournament.

After the allegations surfaced earlier this week, the school said the players were not participating in team activities but would not elaborate. The school had cited federal privacy laws in not commenting further on the status of the players.

Oregon officials said Friday that the school received the police report on April 24 and suspended the players shortly thereafter.

“Our community is not safe, communities across the country are not safe,” said UO VP of Student Affairs Robin Holmes.

The allegation

March 13, the Eugene Police Department received a report accusing three Oregon basketball players of engaging in non-consensual sexual activity with a woman multiple times the weekend prior.

The 24-page report detailed the graphic claim, stating the woman told investigators she met the men while intoxicated at a party of about 30 people.

When asked how she knew who her attackers were, the men’s accuser said “the guys called each other by name, and they look like they do on the basketball cards they hand out at games,” according to the documents.

None of the men have been charged with any crime, and while the players are reportedly barred from the program’s offseason activities, they have not been kicked off the team.

The school has faced significant criticism in the days following the assault claim, which Holmes and Mullens hoped to quell in a recent statement:

“Law enforcement agencies often request that the university wait to take action in order to avoid interference with an open criminal investigation,” the joint statement reads. “We responded accordingly in this situation.”

That answer didn’t seem to satisfy concerned students, however, who marched on the campus’ Johnson Hall in protest Thursday over frustration the school is not doing enough. Meanwhile, students at Portland State University are concerned.

“Kick them out, figure it out later,” said student Ailene Farkac.

“I don’t necessarily believe we convict somebody, but rape is serious,” said student Felicia Thomson. “It’s a he-said-she-said” kind of thing.”

Gottfredson said the university plans to take additional action next week to address the university’s response to sexual assaults.

“Our students’ safety and security is our top priority,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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