Cliff Harris suspended indefinitely
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon coach Chip Kelly has suspended Cliff Harris indefinitely after the cornerback was cited for speeding while driving with a suspended license.
Harris, 20, was cited Sunday morning after police said they clocked him driving 118 mph on a suspended license in a rental car.
Kelly announced the suspension Wednesday after the school said its compliance office was looking into the matter because the car Harris was driving had been rented by a university employee.
Kelly announced in a statement that at the very least, Harris will sit out Oregon's season opener against LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Texas on Sept. 3.
After that, Harris' status would be dependent on his adherence to the football program's rules.
"Cliff's future clearly is in Cliff's hands," Kelly said. "Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program certainly rests far beyond a player's ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard. Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged."
Harris was pulled over about 4:35 a.m. PT Sunday south of Albany, Ore., to the north of Eugene. Two other Oregon football players were passengers in the car. Police did not identify them and they were not cited.
Oregon State Police said Harris was cited for driving with a suspended license and exceeding the speed limit in excess of 100 mph.
The fine for driving a vehicle faster than 100 mph is $1,148. The fine for driving on a suspended license is $427. In addition, Harris has 11 other unpaid fines in both Oregon and his hometown of Fresno, Calif., dating to December 2008 totaling at least $8,527.50, KEZI-TV reported on its website.
It was unclear why Harris' license was suspended. He had been cited at least once before for speeding in Eugene, also with a suspended license.
The employee who rented the car for her personal use does not work in the athletic department, Oregon spokesman Dave Williford said.
According to an email exchange between the employee and The Register-Guard newspaper, Harris and an unidentified football player asked her to extend the rental and compensated her for use of the car. She was told that another player -- not Harris -- would be driving, she told the newspaper.
Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the employee, identified in news reports as Mindy Schmidling, were unsuccessful Wednesday.
The school's compliance office is looking into the matter to determine if any NCAA rules were violated. The university has had preliminary discussions with both the Pac-10 and NCAA about the investigation, Williford said.
Harris excelled as a sophomore last season at cornerback and on special teams. He had six interceptions and set an Oregon record with four punt returns for touchdowns.
Kelly said in a statement after the incident became public that the team was disappointed by Harris' lack of judgment, which he called unacceptable.
The Ducks are currently the subject of an inquiry by the NCAA over the team's use of a pair of recruiting services. In March, the university was asked to provide documentation in the matter.
Oregon does not dispute that it paid two companies for information about potential recruits but denies wrongdoing.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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