Suspended PC players under investigation for sexual assault

Suspended PC players under investigation for sexual assault
March 19, 2014, 7:30 am
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One member of the Providence College basketball team, Rodney Bullock, and another player who has transferred to Oregon, Brandon Austin, are being investigated by Providence police for an alleged sexual assault of a student, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday night.

Austin and Bullock, both freshmen, were both suspended on November 6 for what coach Ed Cooley said at the time was a result of “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.” In December, the school announced that the suspensions would be for the entire season. Bullock is still a member of the team, but Austin transferred out of the program over winter break and has since enrolled at Oregon. He’s eligible to play this December.

The report states the alleged victim approached the Providence police department “a couple of weeks ago”, but that the incident itself occurred in November before the basketball season had started. It also states that the victim, who knew the players, went to campus police immediately after the alleged assault occurred.

Austin was unable to be reached for comment, but Bullock’s attorney told the Journal that the school carried out an investigation by a former Rhode Island state police officer, and that the police have not spoken to his client.

Bullock and Austin were expected to be key contributors to this year's team. Despite their absences, and the loss of star guard Kris Dunn to a season-ending shoulder injury, Providence College won the Big East championship and will begin play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. 

Although Bullock is suspended from game action, he continues to practice with the Friars.

In a statement, PC spokesman Steven Maurano said  that “in November, we were informed of an incident involving two student-athletes on the men’s basketball team. In this situation and all cases like it, our response was immediate and in compliance with our long-standing disciplinary process. The two student-athletes involved were suspended indefinitely from game action by the men’s basketball coach until the disciplinary process was completed. At the conclusion of the process, the loss of privilege to represent the team in game action remained in effect through the balance of the 2013-2014 season. One student-athlete has since withdrawn from Providence College. The other remains enrolled at the college and continues to practice with the team.”

Maurano added that “Providence College will certainly share any relevant information as requested by law enforcement, as permitted by law . . . I want to stress that I 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."

Austin, a 6-foot-7 point guard, was a top 50 recruit in the Class of 2013. Bullock was a top 150 recruit.