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Police in Oregon rape investigation were ‘not … concerned about who’ played in games

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By the time that the nation became aware of the forcible rape allegation levied by a female student against three Oregon basketball players, the outcome had all-but been decided.

The players — sophomores Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin — had been suspended from team activities, and most believe that a dismissal from the program is inevitable. The District Attorney, barring new evidence coming to light, will not be charging any of the three players, meaning that the punishment the players face is getting the boot from school without having to deal with any legal ramifications for their actions.

The only question that remained centered around when Oregon know about the allegations. The alleged crime was committed on March 8th. The police report was filed by the alleged victim on March 13th. Artis and Dotson played postseason games on the 12th, 13th, 20th and 22nd.

The university seemingly cleared that up on Tuesday night. They released a statement saying that they were made aware of the allegations when contacted by the alleged victim’s father on March 9th, but that no action was taken because the Eugene Police Department had asked them not to interfere with the investigation. The EPD confirmed as much that night, but on Wednesday, a spokesperson clarified their statement to John Canzano, a columnist with The Oregonian.

The EPD wanted Oregon to hold off on their own internal investigation.

They didn’t care if the Ducks decided to suspended Artis and Dotson. Austin was already ineligible to play as he was sitting out a transfer year.

“Police are not going to be concerned about who participates in a sporting event,” the Eugene PD’s spokesperson Melinda McLaughlin told Canzano.

There’s more.

As Steve Dunin of The Oregonian notes in this terrific column, the White House Task Force recently released a report on sexual assaults on campus. In that report was this sentence:

“A criminal investigation does not relieve a school of its independent obligation to conduct its own investigation — nor may a school wait for a criminal case to conclude to proceed.”

That raises a couple of new question that Oregon needs to answer:

  • Who, specifically, knew about the allegations and when did they know about them? Was Dana Altman made aware on March 9th?
  • What was known about the allegations? Was Oregon simply made aware that an accusation was being investigated, or were they told details about what happened?
  • Who made the decision to allow Artis and Dotson to play in Oregon’s four postseason games?
  • How would a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules — something that seemingly happens daily at the high-major level — adversely affect the EPD’s investigation?

There may be valid explanations for the way Oregon handled this situation. Maybe they took the EPD’s advice not to begin their own process of investigating to mean they shouldn’t suspended the players, either. Maybe they didn’t realize just how vicious the accusations actually were. Maybe they simply made the decision that, until charges were filed or the investigation was completed, they would assume the innocence of their athletes.

And maybe they simply cared less about the allegation than they did about winning in the postseason and the potential bonus money that came along with it.

We don’t know, because to date, Oregon has simply released a pair of statements on the matter. They haven’t opened the Athletic Director up to take questions. Altman hasn’t even spoken publicly since the police report was made public Monday night.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com hits the nail on the head: It’s time for Oregon to start talking and start explaining, because the longer they wait, the worse it’s going to look for them.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.