EUGENE, Ore. — A federal judge has dismissed lawsuits filed by three former University of Oregon basketball players who were suspended after being accused of an off-campus sexual assault.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane sided with UO and announced Thursday that he found no evidence to back up the players’ argument that university officials denied them due process and acted on gender bias, reported The Register Guard (http://bit.ly/2bZ3q4Y ).

The basketball players sued after they were suspended and banned from campus for up to 10 years after being accused of raping a female student at a 2014 off-campus party. The university said the players violated the school’s code of conduct by engaging in sexual acts without explicit permission from the woman.

Police investigated the woman’s claims but prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to file criminal charges.

The athletes acknowledged having a sexual encounter with the student but say it was consensual.

The judge ruled that attorneys representing the former players can refile suits against the university if they address the problems he found in the original complaint. McShane did, however, dismiss the due process claim without prejudice, meaning a new case couldn’t include that allegation.

Brian Michaels, an attorney who represents two of the players, called the judge’s decision disappointing Thursday but said the players plan to refile the lawsuit.

UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said university officials “are pleased with the court’s decision to grant our motion to dismiss, and we certainly hope the ruling provides some level of finality to this issue.”

McShane wrote in his 29-page opinion that if false allegations were made, “then the injustice (the players) feel is understandable.” But he said it wasn’t his responsibility to judge that.

“That said,” he wrote, “nothing in the complaint or incorporated documents suggests that the actions of the university were motivated by gender bias or that the university deprived (the players) of a due process right.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com