Pierce releases statement, weighing options

Updated: February 5, 2005, 5:40 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa coach Steve Alford's decision to dismiss Pierre Pierce from the basketball team didn't depend on whether police would file criminal charges against the star guard.

Pierce, 21, the Hawkeyes' leading scorer, is under investigation by West Des Moines police.

In a statement released Thursday, Pierce acknowledged having an argument with his girlfriend.

"At the appropriate time, all of the facts will be disclosed, putting the matter into context," he said.

Alford said Thursday the investigation and questions about Pierce's behavior left him with no alternative, especially after Pierce was allowed to return to the team after facing sexual assault charges two years ago.

"It had nothing to do whether you're looking at charges being pressed or not. That had no bearing on my decision," Alford said in his first public comments dismissing Pierce on Wednesday.

"It had to do with the betrayal of trust that was set up for him, and he was not able to continue that line of trust. Because of that the only option I had was to dismiss Pierre from the team," he said.

West Des Moines police met with Pierce and his attorney, Alfredo Parrish, for more than two hours Wednesday night in Iowa City. Sgt. Mike Ficcola said the investigation is ongoing and declined Thursday to say when detectives would forward their findings to prosecutors.

Pierce said he is exploring several options, including transferring to another school, litigation and appealing his dismissal from the team.

Pierre's father, Maurice Pierce, told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday he and his family are taking the case "one step at a time. My whole thing is that there haven't been any charges."

In 2002, Pierce was charged with third-degree sexual abuse. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault causing injury, but the case and the way in which it was handled by university administrators triggered two faculty-led inquiries.

Pierce sat out the 2002-03 season, taking it as a redshirt year to avoid losing a year of eligibility, and returned to the Hawkeyes last season.

In 20 games this year, Pierce has led the team in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game. Alford said it would be difficult to replace Pierce on the court.

"But I also think it's a tremendous opportunity" for some of the team's younger players, said Alford, whose team plays at home Saturday against Michigan State (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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