ORLANDO (Reuters) - University of Florida backup quarterback Treon Harris was suspended from all team activities Monday after a female student accused him of sexual assault in a dorm, the university said.
The female student’s accusation comes as the National Football League and Florida State University, another college football powerhouse, remain under scrutiny for the way they have handled actions by their players against women.
”We’re cooperating with the investigation. I’m optimistic this is not a criminal case,” said Harris’ lawyer, Huntley Johnson, who added that the freshman was also suspended from campus.
UF and the University Athletic Association, a direct support organization with the authority to suspend Harris, were also cooperating with the investigation, according to a statement from the university press office.
“We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus,” UF President Bernie Machen said.
FSU is currently facing a federal investigation for its handling of a sexual assault complaint against Heisman trophy- winning quarterback Jameis Winston, who plays for the Seminoles.
Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice was released by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL last month after a video caught him in the act of punching his then-fiancee at a New Jersey casino. He had earlier been suspended for just two games.
The UF student reported that she was assaulted by Harris before dawn on Sunday, the day after the freshman football player led the Gators to a comeback victory against Tennessee, according to the university police log.
University police called in the Gainesville city police department’s forensic crime unit to help collect evidence.
Johnson would not discuss what Harris told him about the incident, his relationship to the accuser or his current state of mind.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be returning to the university soon,” Johnson said.
Two more professional football players were arrested over the weekend in Fort Lauderdale and Minneapolis on trespassing and other charges, authorities and local media reported.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Derrick Shelby was suspended indefinitely Monday following his arrest on the weekend for trespass and resisting arrest without violence after police said he was accused of causing a disturbance at a Fort Lauderdale nightclub.
Shelby’s agent, David Canter, said in a statement Monday that Shelby, a 25-year-old three-year NFL veteran out of the University of Utah, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh