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Three players investigated for rape won't play for Oregon again

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger
NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-3rd Round-Wisconsin vs Oregon
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Mar 22, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Oregon Ducks guard Damyean Dotson (21) grabs a rebound over Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) in the first half of a men's college basketball game during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center. (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

The three Oregon players that faced sexual assault allegations earlier this spring will not play for the Ducks again.

Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin remain banned from all team activities and will not be reinstated, Oregon president Michael Gottfredson and athletic director Rob Mullens said Friday at a press conference in Eugene.

"When you read the police report, it's very clear it was conduct that isn't befitting of an Oregon student athlete," Mullens explained. "I don't want to get into specifics but it was very clear to us those were individuals we didn't want representing our organization."

Dotson, Artis and Austin were each suspects in a rape investigation that the Lane County District Attorney's office has since decided not to prosecute due to insufficient evidence. A female Oregon student accused the three players of sexually assaulting her multiple times on March 9, but Dotson and Artis insisted to police that the encounters were consensual.

In explaining its decision not to press charges, the district attorney's office noted there was no evidence the alleged victim was too intoxicated to consent, she had opportunities to ask for help after the first and second alleged attacks and she was able to get the players to stop three times during the alleged assaults. The alleged victim also had consensual sex with Artis the morning after the alleged assaults and had sex with another of his teammates that same day.

Regardless, the graphic nature of the police report has incited widespread outrage in Eugene. Protesters on campus have railed against the university both for allowing Artis and Dotson to play in the NCAA tournament more than a week after the school became aware of the allegations and for taking Austin as a transfer from Providence even though he had previously been accused of sexual assault.

Mullens stood behind Dana Altman at the press conference, promising the fifth-year Oregon coach would be back next season. The athletic director also defended the decision to play Artis and Dotson in the NCAA tournament, insisting that Oregon was still gathering details about the case and the identity of the alleged suspects at that point and noting that the police asked the school to take no action that would interfere with their investigation.  

Oregon received a copy of the police report April 30 and suspended all three players within 24 hours of that. When asked if he wished Oregon had kept the three players out of the NCAA tournament, Mullens said, "I can't deal in speculation."

"At the time the priority was to make sure we did not interfere in the police investigation," he added.

That explanation probably won't satisfy critics because it's hard to understand how suspending Artis, Dotson and Austin would have made it any more difficult for the police to do their jobs. Mullens also may have opened Oregon up to further criticism when he claimed school officials were unaware Austin was under investigation for sexual assault while at Providence, an incident that led to him being suspended indefinitely and never playing a game for the Friars.

"No, we were not aware," Mullens said before defending the school's vetting process. "Coach Altman had talked to the prior institution's coach. The information we were relayed was somewhat limited because of the law. It was a student conduct matter, it was not a serious matter, Brandon was still enrolled at Providence, they were hoping to retain him. We later received documents that supported Providence's point of view on that."

In truth, no matter how Mullens answered that question, Oregon's decision to take Austin would be second-guessed.

If he said Oregon knew about the accusations but miscalculated by taking him anyway, the Ducks would be lambasted for prioritizing winning over the safety of students. If he made the somewhat dubious claim that Oregon didn't know about the accusations, the thoroughness of the Ducks' vetting process would be called into question.  

Regardless, Austin, Dotson and Artis are gone now, leaving Oregon with only four returning players from last season's NCAA tournament team. Austin would have been a potential impact addition at wing, Dotson was a two-year starter at small forward and Artis was the likely heir apparent at point guard after losing his starting job to Johnathan Loyd last season.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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