Report: Two suspended Providence players under investigation for sexual assault

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Two Providence basketball players who were suspended indefinitely by the school are being accused of sexual assault, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Providence police are investigating a claim made by a Providence College student who is alleging that she was sexually assaulted by Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, two freshmen who were suspended on Nov. 6 -- just three days after the alleged incident occurred.

At the time of the suspension, the school said in a statement that the players were being suspended for “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.” More than a month later, on Dec. 23, the school announced that the suspensions would be for the entire season.

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According to the Journal, the suspensions “stemmed from the school’s internal review of the sexual-assault claim.”

Bullock, a Rivals Top 150 recruit from Hampton, Va., is still on Providence’s roster and has been practicing with the team – a team that just won the Big East tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. On the other hand, Austin, a Rivals Top 50 recruit from Philadelphia, opted to transfer in January and has subsequently enrolled at the University of Oregon.

Bill Lynch, Bullock’s attorney, told the Journal that his client had been accused of sexual assault and that the school investigated the claim and his client was not questioned by police.

“After this extensive review and this hearing process in which everyone participated, the penalty meted out was the only one meted by the school, and I think that speaks volumes,” Lynch said.

When Oregon announced Austin’s transfer, Ducks coach Dana Altman said that he had spoken to Providence coaches about Austin before accepting his transfer.

“In talking with their coaching staff, we felt like this was something that was not of a serious nature and we’d be able to move on from there,” Altman said in January.

Austin, who is traveling with Oregon to its NCAA tournament matchup with BYU in Milwaukee, could not be reached by the Journal for comment.

A Providence spokesman released a statement to the Journal on Tuesday saying the school “was informed of an incident” in November involving two basketball players and their “response was immediate.” Providence coach Ed Cooley said that he was “saddened” by the situation.

A person familiar with the investigation told the Journal that the alleged victim knew the two players and reported the incident immediately to campus police but did not contact Providence police at the time. David Lapatin of the Providence Police told the Journal Tuesday that they were informed of the allegations by the alleged victim “a couple of weeks ago.”

Austin is not the first high-profile Providence recruit to not play a minute for the Friars. Five-star guard Ricardo Ledo, the No. 6 overall player in the class of 2012, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. After spending a year at the school without taking the floor, Ledo declared for the 2013 NBA Draft and was selected No. 43 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. His rights were then traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

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