Oregon Athletics

Rhode Island grand jury won’t indict Brandon Austin, Rodney Bullock following sexual assault investigation

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Prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, newcomers Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock were expected to compete for playing time as freshmen at Providence. However the two players were alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student in November, with a school disciplinary board ruling that Austin and Bullock would be prohibited from playing for Ed Cooley at all in 2013-14. With the school coming to that conclusion there was still the issue of whether or not a Rhode Island grand jury would indict them on charges of sexual assault.

Wednesday afternoon it was reported by the Providence Journal that the grand jury has declined to indict the two, citing insufficient evidence as the reason for the decision.

“The investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin has concluded,” the office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said in a statement according to the Journal. “The allegations concerned an incident which allegedly occurred on November 3, 2013, in Providence.

“The investigation was presented to a Statewide Grand Jury. The Grand Jury determined there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges against Rodney Bullock. After presentation of the evidence to the Grand Jury with respect to Brandon Austin, it was determined there was legally insufficient evidence to ask the Grand Jury to consider charges against Austin.

“The Office of Attorney General cannot release further details surrounding the Grand Jury as disclosure is prohibited by law.”

The two players chose different paths in the aftermath of their suspension, with Austin transferring to Oregon and Bullock remaining at Providence. And while the remainder of the season was relatively quiet for the suspended Bullock the same can’t be said for Austin, who was investigated for another sexual assault at Oregon.

Austin, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis weren’t charged in the case, but all three were dismissed from the program and subsequently banned from the Oregon campus for up to ten years. It remains to be seen where the three players wind up, with Artis and Dotson still looking for schools and Austin not headed to Hutchinson (Kansas) CC despite reports earlier this month that he would be joining the program.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?