James set to appear at hearing

Updated: March 11, 2010, 12:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon running back LaMichael James, who set a Pac-10 freshman record with more than 1,500 yards rushing last season, is scheduled to appear Friday at a change-of-plea hearing on domestic violence charges.

James previously pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of menacing, strangulation and assault. A woman who says she is James' girlfriend says he grabbed her neck and pushed her to the ground during an argument outside his apartment on Feb. 15.

Details about the hearing, including whether James has entered into some kind of plea agreement, were not known. A law enforcement source told The Oregonian James is expected to change his plea from not guilty to no contest, as part of a plea agreement that includes anger management, other punishment and gets him easier access to the school and a return to his athletics programs.

Court documents show he is scheduled to appear in Lane County Circuit Court. Deputy District Attorney Patricia Perlow would not comment on the matter.

"We're not going to talk about what he might or might not do until after the hearing on Friday," she said.

Phone calls placed to James' attorney, Michael Buseman, for comment were not immediately returned.

James, 20, was released from jail after his arrest but was required to wear an electronic monitoring device around his ankle.

The 22-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, sustained an abrasion in the alleged assault but did not require hospitalization.

James rushed for 1,546 yards last season as a freshman, the ninth-highest total in the nation and the most ever by a Pac-10 freshman. He had seven consecutive 100-yard games before Ohio State limited him to 70 in Oregon's 26-17 loss in the Rose Bowl.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly did not take any action against James at the time of his arrest, preferring to wait until the outcome of the case.

"Any time an athlete is involved with the law, we're concerned, but we'll let the legal process run its course," Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti told The Oregonian. "We recognize that there are issues, and we'll just move forward. Sometimes we have some information, from a player's point of view, and you just have to wait until the truth comes out."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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