Oregon running back James jailed

Updated: February 17, 2010, 7:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon running back LaMichael James, one of the top freshmen in the nation, was arrested on domestic violence charges after his girlfriend said he grabbed her neck during an argument and pushed her to the ground.

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The latest news out of Oregon, again not of the good variety, extends a recent streak of disturbing off-field incidents. Blog

James, 20, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of menacing, strangulation and assault. He remained in the Lane County Jail on $40,000 bail, according to a jail deputy. His attorney, Michael Buseman, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Springfield police Sgt. Tom Borchers said the incident happened Monday evening outside a Springfield apartment complex. The 22-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, contacted authorities the following day and police located James in Eugene late Tuesday.

"She went to the house to talk to him and during that conversation there was an altercation," Borchers told ESPN.com's Ted Miller. "According to [the alleged victim], he placed his hands on her throat and applied pressure, resulting in a strangulation charge. Also during the altercation she was apparently forced to the ground or knocked to the ground and sustained some abrasions."

The woman sustained an abrasion but did not require hospitalization, Borchers said.

"We are concerned anytime a student-athlete is mentioned in a police report," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said in a statement. "We do not condone any behavior that doesn't meet university standards or our football program's standards, and we go to great lengths to actively educate our student-athletes regarding appropriate conduct.

"We have the utmost confidence in the local law enforcement authorities to determine the facts in all instances involving our student-athletes, and will reserve further judgment or comment until further information is available."

James began the season as the backup to LeGarrette Blount, but quickly became a star after Blount was suspended for most of the season for punching a Boise State player immediately after the Ducks' season opener.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound James rushed for 1,546 yards, the ninth-highest total in the nation, second most in the Pac-10 and the most ever by a Pac-10 freshman. He had seven consecutive 100-yard games before Ohio State limited him to 70 in the Rose Bowl. James averaged 118.9 yards a game and received second-team All-Pac-10 honors.

The arrest comes the same week kicker Rob Beard was charged with assault for a Jan. 24 altercation that precipitated a brawl that left him badly beaten and in need of facial surgery. Beard will not be jailed and is facing a mandatory court appearance.

Another kicker involved in the incident, Mike Bowlin, left the team this week and defensive end Matt Simms was dismissed from the squad after he was charged with assault in what police say was an attack on someone Simms thought was involved in the Beard beating.

Ted Miller is the Pac-10 blogger for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.