Police investigating two players

Updated: March 20, 2014, 12:05 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Police confirmed Wednesday they are investigating an allegation that two Providence players sexually assaulted another student on campus in November.

Providence police Maj. David Lapatin told The Associated Press on Wednesday 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.

Lapatin would not name the players, but a defense lawyer says unsubstantiated allegations were made against Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin around the time they were suspended from playing in games on Nov. 6.

"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 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 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 the university 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 Bullock and Austin would not be allowed to play for the entire season.

Austin has since transferred to the Oregon.

Ducks coach Dana Altman said Wednesday that he had spoken with Cooley before Austin's transfer.

"We felt comfortable with the fact that Providence wanted him to stay," Altman said before his team practiced in Milwaukee, where it was preparing for its NCAA tournament opener Thursday against BYU. "Over time, we gathered all the information we could and felt comfortable with our decision."

An Oregon 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 will play North Carolina on Friday.

Lynch questioned the timing of the allegations.

"Suddenly, a week before Providence is playing in 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 police. If he is, Lynch said, "he will do exactly as he did at the review at the school and participate 100 percent voluntarily."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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