Oregon QB Masoli suspended for next season
AP Sports Writer
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was suspended Friday for the upcoming season by coach Chip Kelly after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary in the theft of a pair of laptops and a guitar from a campus fraternity.
Masoli, who had been mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate, will remain on scholarship with the Ducks.
“He does have a redshirt season available to him if he chooses to do that,” Kelly said.
Kelly announced the suspension just hours after Masoli appeared in Lane County Circuit Court to answer to the burglary charge.
Kelly, who has come under fire for some of his disciplinary decisions, also meted out punishment for running back LaMichael James and placekicker Rob Beard.
James was suspended for the season opener after he pleaded guilty early Friday to a misdemeanor harassment charge stemming from an altercation with his former girlfriend.
Beard was also suspended for the opener Sept. 4 at home against New Mexico after pleading guilty last week to a misdemeanor harassment charge for his role in a street fight that left him seriously injured.
“I am extremely disappointed anytime any of our players fall short of our expectations that have been clearly outlined for them in advance on numerous occasions, and this is especially true regarding their roles within the community,” Kelly said. “Their accountability for their actions is paramount and any tainting of the reputation of the University of Oregon and this football program will not be tolerated.”
Masoli pleaded guilty as part of a deal that reduced his charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. Former Ducks receiver Garrett Embry pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of second-degree burglary as well.
Both were sentenced to 12 months of probation and 140 hours of community service. Together they must also pay $5,000 restitution.
In the same courtroom hours earlier, James entered his plea and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 24 months of probation. He reported to jail on Friday afternoon but was quickly released and instead put on electronic surveillance for the duration of his sentence.
Deputy District Attorney Alex Gardner had said earlier that it was unlikely James would serve jail time because of overcrowding, and because his offense was relatively minor and he was considered low-risk.
James, who set a Pac-10 freshman record with more than 1,500 yards rushing last season, originally faced five misdemeanor charges, including strangulation, harassment and assault. All but one harassment charge were dropped.
In a statement that was included in court documents related to the case, James apologized to the victim, a former girlfriend. She claimed he grabbed her neck and pushed her to the ground during an argument on Feb. 15.
“I hope to put this matter behind me now and learn from it. I have made a mistake and accept the consequences,” the statement said. “I look forward to demonstrating to my University, to my team and to the community that I am a better man than recent events suggest.”
James rushed for 1,546 yards last season as a freshman, the ninth-highest total in the nation. He had seven consecutive 100-yard games before Ohio State limited him to 70 in Oregon’s 26-17 loss in the Rose Bowl.
Masoli threw for 2,147 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 668 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The two helped lead Oregon to a remarkable comeback from a season-opening loss to Boise State. The Ducks won their first Pac-10 title since 2001 and earned their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1995.
Kelly’s action was the latest twist to the Ducks’ offseason of disarray.
Beard was placed on probation after entering his plea.
Linebacker Kiko Alonso pleaded not guilty to drunken driving charges in Eugene Municipal Court last week. Kelly suspended Alonso for the 2010 season upon learning of the arrest.
Defensive end Matt Simms was dismissed by Kelly after he was cited on assault charges last month. Simms pleaded guilty to physical harassment for striking a man he thought had beaten Beard.
Receiver Jamere Holland was dismissed from the team after posting vulgar comments and criticizing Kelly on the Facebook social networking site.
Kelly, who made his debut as a head coach last season, was questioned after he brought back running back LeGarrette Blount early from a season-long suspension.
Blount was suspended for punching a Boise State defensive end following the season-opening loss. He missed eight games before he was reinstated for meeting certain academic and behavioral criteria set down by Kelly.
University president Richard Lariviere issued a statement late Friday in support of Kelly’s actions.
“I am confident that Coach Kelly has carefully and fairly considered the disciplinary actions he is imposing,” Lariviere said. “I know that he understands the high expectations of Oregon’s faculty, students and fans.”