Star guard focus of police investigation

2/2/2005 - Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa leading scorer Pierre Pierce, who reportedly is the main focus of a police investigation, was dismissed from the team Wednesday, the university announced.

"I regret this step has become necessary, but Pierre has betrayed the trust we placed in him when he was given a second chance two years ago," Iowa coach Steve Alford said in a statement. "Pierre is an excellent basketball player who will be missed by our team."

Two years ago, Pierce missed the 2002-03 season after being charged with third-degree sexual assault. He returned to the team last season with the understanding that being involved in another off-court incident would get him kicked off the team, a source close to the program told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

On Monday, The Associated Press reported that Pierce was the subject of an investigation by West Des Moines police, which ultimately led to his dismissal.

"Coach Steve Alford, athletic director Bob Bowlsby and I agree that it was time to take decisive action by removing Mr. Pierce from the basketball team permanently," Iowa president David Skorton said. "We agree that Mr. Pierce has violated the standards of behavior that we expect and demand from all of our student-athletes."

The university has not addressed the circumstances of the West Des Moines police's investigation. The 21-year-old Pierce, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior guard who was averaging 17.8 points a game, has not been charged. He met for more than two hours Wednesday night with investigators.

"He answered all of their questions," Pierce's attorney, Alfredo Parrish, told The Associated Press. Parrish declined to comment on details of the interview but earlier characterized the incident as a misunderstanding.

In the 2002 incident, Pierce pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault causing injury. He received a deferred judgment, so the charge was erased from his record after he successfully completed a year of probation, counseling and 200 hours of community service.

Parrish, told AP that Iowa officials acted prematurely in taking action against Pierce.

"They [the university] should have waited until all the facts were out," Parrish said. "By them jumping way ahead of the curve ... we believe they have not acted either in the best interest of the
university or the best interest of the students, and clearly not in the best interest of Pierre Pierce."

Bowlsby said Pierce's academic status is not affected. The fourth-year junior might still finish up school this semester and is close to graduating. He was planning on declaring for the NBA draft and will continue on that path depending on the outcome of his case, according to the source.

The Hawkeyes will start either Mike Henderson or Carlton Reed in Pierce's place against Michigan State on Saturday. They expect more scoring to come from these two as well as Greg Brunner (14 ppg), Jeff Horner (13.6 ppg), Adam Haluska (12.4 ppg) and Erek Hansen (6.1 ppg) in Pierce's absence.

ESPN.com's Andy Katz contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used.