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AD responds to recent criminal cases

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- In response to several high profile
criminal cases involving its football players, Oregon State has
drafted a new disciplinary policy for student-athletes.

Athletic director Bob De Carolis presented it on Friday at Gill
Coliseum. It includes immediate suspension for felony charges.

"There are certain norms of behavior you have to adhere to,"
De Carolis said. "If you don't, you know what's going to happen."

Oregon State had come under fire for failing to act swiftly and
decisively after recent student arrests.

The draft policy targets five violations: driving under the
influence, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of a
controlled substance, physical assault and sexual offenses.

The penalties range in severity. For driving under the
influence, there is a minimum suspension from 10 percent of the
team's games or competitions for the first offense. A basketball
player, for instance, would miss three games.

An athlete charged with felony sexual assault would be
immediately suspended. For a misdemeanor charge, a 30 percent
suspension and counseling would be imposed.

All first offenses involve suspensions, and players face
dismissal on most first or second offenses if they plead guilty or
no contest, or are convicted.

"While not every charge is listed, the overriding principle is
that in the event of a felony charge a student athlete will be
immediately suspended from all athletic activity until the legal
process runs its course," the draft states.

De Carolis said the policy included minimum punishments;
circumstances would contribute to further action.

"At the end of the day, we think this is fair and that it will
send a message," he said.

State Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, earlier this month
introduced a bill that would prohibit players charged with certain
crimes from stepping on the field. The Senate Education Committee
delayed a vote because of the university's campaign to revamp its
policies.

Metsger said Friday that the legislation had been shelved in
light of the draft proposal, which lawmakers saw on Thursday. It is
expected that the new rules will be official by mid-June.

"They have stepped up and addressed the issues that sparked our
legislation. That makes the bill itself unnecessary, which is the
best possible outcome," Metsger said.

Earlier this month, sophomore defensive lineman Joe Rudulph
pleaded guilty to assaulting an Oregon National Guardsman on leave
from Iraq. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

In March, defensive lineman Ben Siegert was arrested for driving
while intoxicated after allegedly speeding with a 200-pound ram
sheep in the back of his pickup.

Siegert pleaded no contest, and was ordered to complete alcohol
treatment, pay court fees and appear before a victims impact panel.

And two players -- running back Jimtavis Walker and long snapper
Star Paddock -- were arrested Feb. 11 for assaulting a taxi driver
and offering to pay a $20 fare with marijuana.

De Carolis said it had not been determined whether those
students would face penalties based on the new policy.

The school also said the disciplinary policy requires
student-athletes to attend programs on such topics as addictive
behavior, relationships and sexual responsibility, and diversity.

Athletic officials will work with coaches to create conformity
for team rules, De Carolis said.