By MICHELLE R. SMITH and DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Police confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating an allegation that two Providence College basketball players sexually assaulted another student on campus in November.
Providence police Maj. David Lapatin told The Associated Press that the complaint was filed about two weeks ago by a female student against two men who were on the basketball team at the time of the assault. He would not name the players, but a defense lawyer says unsubstantiated sex assault allegations were made against players Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin when they were suspended from playing in games in the fall.
“The school did an exhaustive review, interviewed all the parties including the two male students, who voluntarily participated in the process,” Bill Lynch, a lawyer for Bullock, said on Wednesday. “There was never a finding against either of the students that there was a sexual assault.”
The police investigation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The freshman players were initially suspended Nov. 6, shortly before the season began, for what the school said at the time was “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.”
On Wednesday, Providence spokesman Steve Maurano would not give details about the complaint, but said coach Ed Cooley suspended the players the day they received it. Maurano said he would “recommend against drawing any conclusions that our (on-campus) process ended with a finding that our student-athlete was found responsible for sexual assault.”
The school announced in December that the Bullock and Austin would not be allowed to play for the entire season.
Austin has since transferred to the University of Oregon. An Oregon spokesman did not immediately comment but said coach Dana Altman would be willing to address the issue at his scheduled news conference as the team prepares for its first NCAA tournament game in Milwaukee. The spokesman, Andy McNamara, said he didn’t know if Austin had a lawyer.
Providence is also playing in the NCAA tournament after winning the Big East Tournament for the first time in 20 years. The 11th seed Friars flew Wednesday morning to San Antonio, where they’re scheduled to play North Carolina on Friday.
Lynch questioned the timing of the allegations.
“Suddenly, a week before Providence is playing on the NCAA tournament, there’s a complaint filed? I’m getting too old to believe in coincidences,” he said.
He said his client had not yet been contacted by the police. If he is, Lynch said, “he will do exactly as he did at the review at the school and participate 100 percent voluntarily.”
Collins reported from Hartford, Conn.
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