EUGENE- University of Oregon's head basketball coach Dana Altman said he was shocked and disappointed to read the details of rape allegations made against three of his players but felt it was in the best interest of the school, the team and the students themselves to let the players go.
"I'm very disappointed in the players," said a sullen Altman at a Friday afternoon press conference. "I think it's in the best interest of our young men that we made the decision."
Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin, former Oregon Ducks basketball players, are accused of raping a woman at two separate locations on March 8. The victim reported the incident to police five days later.
A criminal investigation followed the allegations but a district attorney concluded there was not enough evidence to prosecute the men.
Altman said he became aware that there was an incident involving players by the police in March when he was in Milwaukie. However, he did not know which players were involved and did not ask.
When he learned the identifies of the accused Altman stated that the school was instructed not take actions against the accused. Two of the three accused players went on to play in NCAA tournament games.
"We had been instructed not to do anything to interfere with their investigation," Altman said.
Altman said he still cared about all three men, saying that recent events could not erase the history he had with his former players.
"I don't stop caring about them," Altman said. "Good people can make bad decisions.
Earlier Friday, University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson said he was "appalled" by the incident.
"As president, I'm angry and disappointed over this profoundly disturbing incident," Gottfredson said.
Watch: UO President reacts to rape case
Officials said they received the police report on April 30 and took immediate action.
"The three students athletes were suspended," Gottfredson said. "They will not be playing basketball again at the University of Oregon."
Austin had been temporarily suspended after a sex assault accusation on Providence College, before he came to the University of Oregon.
Altman said that he discussed the incident with Austin when he came to the Ducks, but that Austin did not disclose that he was under a criminal investigation.
Officials stated that they wanted to respect the privacy of students involved and chose not to publicize the incident. Federal shield laws prohibit schools from talking about student discipline issues.
The university is now required to conduct an internal investigation. The findings of such an investigation could lead to disciplinary action, including expulsion.
Protesters have criticized how the university handled the case, saying the school didn't take enough action after they found out about the accusations.