Friday, December 16, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: Two Longhorns Under Investigation

Earlier today, the Austin (TX) Police Department issued the following statement:
The Austin Police Department is currently investigating two alleged criminal misconducts; an aggravated assault and a robbery by assault that occurred within the Downtown Area Command. These incidents occurred on September 4th and December 10th. Information obtained indicates that the individuals being investigated in these incidents are involved in the UT athletics program. Due to the fact that these cases are still being investigated, APD cannot provide additional information. has learned from sources familiar with the investigation that the unnamed individuals are Cedric Griffin and Ramonce Taylor, both members of the University of Texas football team.

Cedric Griffin

Griffin, a senior cornerback projected by's Gil Brandt as a first-day pick in next April's NFL Draft, can also play safety. He tallied 73 tackles, two forced fumbles and 14 passes broken up this season and was selected as a first team All-Big 12 performer. Against Texas A&M he returned a punt for a touchdown.

Ramonce Taylor

Taylor, a sophomore running back who earlier nicknamed himself Reggie Bush Jr., shares time in the backfield with Jamaal Charles, Selvin Young and Henry Melton. His 7.0 yards per carry average and 12 touchdowns this season earned him All-Big 12 honorable mention honors.

According to Austin Police Department incident reports, at 3:06 a.m. on September 4th, officers were dispatched to investigate an assault involving an automatic handgun. Texas defeated Louisiana-Lafayette in Austin earlier that evening.

On December 10th, police responded to a call at 2:59 a.m. regarding an attempted robbery by assault in which a suspect used his hands, fist or feet to assault a victim. The incident occurred at 500 E. Seventh Street, near Austin's popular Sixth Street district.

A News 8 Austin report that doesn't identify the players being investigated describes the incidents in more detail:
Sources tell us that the victims are telling police they were downtown when they were beaten up and robbed of their money.

There have been no arrests and no indictments in the investigations, but the cases have been turned over to the district attorney's office for further review.
UPDATE: Former Travis County district attorney Ken Oden confirmed to ESPN's Joe Schad on Friday night that cornerback Cedric Griffin is one of the players being investigated, as we had reported earlier in the day.
"I have agreed to advise Cedric Griffin although no criminal charges have been filed against him. He is the subject of an investigation -- and I stress it is an investigation," Oden told Schad. "I believe no charges will be filed against him. They're saying this is assault and robbery, and it sounds hideous, but this is a trash-talking incident on the street involving Cedric and that's it. I know this is a big game and they're focused on it. But in fairness to Cedric, this was nothing more than a verbal incident in as much as it involves Cedric."
Schad's story was filed several hours after our initial report naming Griffin and Taylor.

Saturday's edition of the San Antonio Express-News contains an article listing Taylor as the second player being investigated.

MORE: Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds issued the following statement late Friday night:
"We were surprised by the APD release of allegations concerning one or more of our student-athletes. We have followed up on the rumors that we are hearing and spoken with the two student-athletes who are alleged to be under investigation. Within the limited time we had this evening, we have gathered as much information as possible. Based upon what we know at this time we have no reason to believe that the University or the athletic department need to take any action. We will continue to monitor the matter, and we will cooperate fully with those who are conducting the investigation."
UPDATE: From Sunday's Dallas Morning News:
Austin attorney Ken Oden [who is advising the two Texas players] said he believes Griffin and Taylor have been questioned by the Austin Police Department in connection with the alleged Sept. 4 incident simply to elicit information about a separate possible suspect.

"To my knowledge, the suspect in the Sept. 4 matter is not a football player," Oden said. "The people being asked questions with regard to that alleged incident are football players and non-football players who might have information with regard to that incident."

Oden said he is concerned about what has been reported after a statement released Friday by the Austin Police Department.

The release said individuals "in the UT athletics program" were being investigated in connection with an aggravated assault involving an automatic handgun on Sept. 4 and in connection with an assault and robbery in the Sixth Street area on Dec. 10.

No charges have been filed and no arrests have been made. Police are declining further comment until an investigation is complete. UT officials have said they plan to take no action against any student-athlete based on the information they have.

Oden said Griffin and Taylor are in no way connected to the Sept. 4 matter but were both on Sixth Street in the early hours of Dec. 10, after the Texas football banquet. At about 3 a.m. on Dec. 10, according to police, a person was punched, kicked and robbed.

Oden said the alleged incident was nothing more than a "testosterone-charged moment of trash talk." Police are investigating whether Griffin was asking people on the street for $5 for pizza and whether a group of men who came across Griffin took offense to it.
MORE: From the Austin-American Statesman:
Lawyer Ken Oden, who is representing tailback Ramonce Taylor and cornerback Cedric Griffin, said Austin police told him that they have ended their investigation and are planning no arrests.

The case may now be reviewed by the Travis County district attorney's office, Oden said in a statement.
UPDATE: Not so fast, according to the LA Daily News:
Police spokeswoman Toni Chovonetz said Monday the investigation remains open and declined further comment.