A female student at Oregon has filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against the university and men’s basketball coach Dana Altman in relation to the handling of a March sexual assault for which the university found three basketball players responsible.
Filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, the lawsuit alleges that Altman knew of sexual misconduct by one of the players at his previous university yet still recruited him to Oregon. It also alleges that UO’s delayed response created a hostile environment for the female student.
“The university disagrees with the allegations against it and believes that it acted in accordance with the law, including Title IX,” said UO interim president Scott Coltrane in a letter to the campus community. “This litigation in no way undermines the university’s on-going commitment to support the student inside and outside of the classroom.”
Oregon’s director of student conduct in June found Brandon Austin, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis responsible of sexual misconduct and suspended them from the university for 4-10 years. They were kicked off the team in April.
The female student alleged she was sexually assaulted three times by the players starting on the night of March 8. In a 24-page report released by the Eugene police department in May, when the allegations first came to light, the players said the sexual acts were consensual. Lane County district attorney Alex Gardner announced in May that he would not be filing charges, saying there was “insufficient evidence to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The lawsuit alleges former UO president Michael Gottfredson, who resigned in August, knew of the alleged assault and which players were involved in March but let Dotson and Artis play in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments while the police investigation was ongoing. Austin was not eligible to play as a transfer student.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported Austin had been accused of sexual assault at Providence. Altman has previously said he was not aware of that allegation when he was recruiting Austin, but the lawsuit says that Altman knew of the reason for Austin’s season-long suspension at Providence.
The lawsuit alleges that Oregon was “deliberately indifferent” to the risk posed by Austin.
It also alleges UO negotiated a deal with the athletes in which they would chose an “administrative conference” — with the outcome decided by administrators — and not be expelled, would not have mention of sexual misconduct on their transcripts and that no one would receive a physical copy of the outcome. The complaint states Oregon delayed finalizing the proceeding to protect the basketball team’s academic progress rate.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to require Oregon to comply with Title IX, unspecified damages that include reimbursement for tuition and related expenses and damages for pain and suffering.