Brandon Austin has been accepted into Northwest Florida State, according to a report from ESPN.com. It will be the third college that Austin has attended and the fourth program that he has been associated with in the last year.
“We are confident in our ability to provide Brandon with the infrastructure and support system our student-athletes need in order to be successful in the classroom, on the court, and in the community,” athletic director Ramsey Ross said. “At our level of athletics, we have a unique and powerful opportunity to provide student-athletes a setting to improve their lives by continuing to pursue their educational and athletic goals, and Brandon will be no different in that regard.”
Austin began his collegiate career at Providence, but was suspended from the team for a year after he was accused of sexual assault by a female student. He left in between semesters and enrolled at Oregon, where he was booted from the school this spring after he was, again, accused of sexually assaulting a student. Charges have not been filed in either case.
Northwest Florida is a Junior College powerhouse that has produced, among other, Louisville’s starting point guard Chris Jones. Current Wichita State assistant coach Steve Forbes was the head coach there through the 2012-2013 season.
The current head coach is Steve DeMeo, a longtime assistant at the Division I level that is taking on a serious risk bringing Austin into the program. Austin is a terrific talent on the basketball court, an athletic, 6-foot-7 point guard that can put up big scoring numbers. He’s the kind of player that could win a JuCo program a national title and earn DeMeo a higher-paying job back at the D-I level.
But with those two accusations hanging over his head, if Austin gets into any kind of trouble while on the Northwest Florida campus, DeMeo’s job — and, frankly, his career — could be on the line.
“The college has decided to give this young man an opportunity to continue his education,” DeMeo said. “We have the experience, support and resources to help Brandon get back on track towards graduating and help him be a successful student athlete on and off the court.”
Considering that Austin has not been indicted, let alone convicted, with a crime in either instance, I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong that he gets another chance at turning his life around.
But if I’m running a well-established program, even one in the JuCo ranks, I don’t think that I would risk being the one to bring him on board.