For Oregon head coach Dana Altman, four 20-plus win seasons and two consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament have been overshadowed by the growing list of off-the-court issues involving members of his basketball team.
In the spring, three players — Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin — were all accused of sexual assault by a female student. While no charges were filed, all three were dismissed from school and are barred from campus for the next four years. Austin, who transferred midway through last year, had a been accused of sexual assault at his previous school, Providence.
Sine late July, Ray Kasongo and JaQuan Lyle, two Oregon commits, failed to enroll into school. Just this past week, Elgin Cook and Jalil Abdul-Bassit, two of the three returning scholarship players, were cited for shoplifting.
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On Thursday, after months of turmoil within his program, Altman spoke to reporters.
“We have had a bad year, and we do have to address that,” Altman said, via Austin Meek, columnist for the Register-Guard.
According to Meek, Altman has altered the team’s living arrangements. The Ducks are required to live across from the Matthew Knight Arena, in the same apartment complex as the graduate assistants. Whether or not those changes occurred after the Oct. 5 shoplifting incident was not stated.
With only nine scholarship players — just one standing taller than 6-foot-7 — the Ducks are in for an uphill battle in 2014-2015. It’s something Altman, who has exceeded on-the-floor expectations before at Oregon, will have to do again in Year 4, as he needs to also restore the image of the program in the process.
Oregon begins the season on Nov. 14 against Coppin State.