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Friday, April 29, 2005
AD responds to recent criminal cases

Associated Press

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- In response to several high profile criminal cases involving its football players, Oregon State has drafted a new disciplinary policy for student-athletes.

Athletic director Bob De Carolis presented it on Friday at Gill Coliseum. It includes immediate suspension for felony charges.

"There are certain norms of behavior you have to adhere to," De Carolis said. "If you don't, you know what's going to happen."

Oregon State had come under fire for failing to act swiftly and decisively after recent student arrests.

The draft policy targets five violations: driving under the influence, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of a controlled substance, physical assault and sexual offenses.

The penalties range in severity. For driving under the influence, there is a minimum suspension from 10 percent of the team's games or competitions for the first offense. A basketball player, for instance, would miss three games.

An athlete charged with felony sexual assault would be immediately suspended. For a misdemeanor charge, a 30 percent suspension and counseling would be imposed.

All first offenses involve suspensions, and players face dismissal on most first or second offenses if they plead guilty or no contest, or are convicted.

"While not every charge is listed, the overriding principle is that in the event of a felony charge a student athlete will be immediately suspended from all athletic activity until the legal process runs its course," the draft states.

De Carolis said the policy included minimum punishments; circumstances would contribute to further action.

"At the end of the day, we think this is fair and that it will send a message," he said.

State Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, earlier this month introduced a bill that would prohibit players charged with certain crimes from stepping on the field. The Senate Education Committee delayed a vote because of the university's campaign to revamp its policies.

Metsger said Friday that the legislation had been shelved in light of the draft proposal, which lawmakers saw on Thursday. It is expected that the new rules will be official by mid-June.

"They have stepped up and addressed the issues that sparked our legislation. That makes the bill itself unnecessary, which is the best possible outcome," Metsger said.

Earlier this month, sophomore defensive lineman Joe Rudulph pleaded guilty to assaulting an Oregon National Guardsman on leave from Iraq. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

In March, defensive lineman Ben Siegert was arrested for driving while intoxicated after allegedly speeding with a 200-pound ram sheep in the back of his pickup.

Siegert pleaded no contest, and was ordered to complete alcohol treatment, pay court fees and appear before a victims impact panel.

And two players -- running back Jimtavis Walker and long snapper Star Paddock -- were arrested Feb. 11 for assaulting a taxi driver and offering to pay a $20 fare with marijuana.

De Carolis said it had not been determined whether those students would face penalties based on the new policy.

The school also said the disciplinary policy requires student-athletes to attend programs on such topics as addictive behavior, relationships and sexual responsibility, and diversity.

Athletic officials will work with coaches to create conformity for team rules, De Carolis said.