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Newz Forum: BASKETBALL: Iowa dismisses Pierce, cites 'betrayal of trust'

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posted on Feb, 3 2005 @ 06:35 PM
Iowa leading scorer Pierre Pierce, who reportedly is the main focus of a police investigation, was dismissed from the team Wednesday, the university announced.

"I regret this step has become necessary, but Pierre has betrayed the trust we placed in him when he was given a second chance two years ago," Iowa coach Steve Alford said in a statement. "Pierre is an excellent basketball player who will be missed by our team."

Two years ago, Pierce missed the 2002-03 season after being charged with third-degree sexual assault. He returned to the team last season with the understanding that being involved in another off-court incident would get him kicked off the team, a source close to the program told's Andy Katz.

On Monday, The Associated Press reported that Pierce was the subject of an investigation by West Des Moines police, which ultimately led to his dismissal.

"Coach Steve Alford, athletic director Bob Bowlsby and I agree that it was time to take decisive action by removing Mr. Pierce from the basketball team permanently," Iowa president David Skorton said. "We agree that Mr. Pierce has violated the standards of behavior that we expect and demand from all of our student-athletes."

The university has not addressed the circumstances of the West Des Moines police's investigation. The 21-year-old Pierce, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior guard who was averaging 17.8 points a game, has not been charged. He met for more than two hours Wednesday night with investigators.

"He answered all of their questions," Pierce's attorney, Alfredo Parrish, told The Associated Press. Parrish declined to comment on details of the interview but earlier characterized the incident as a misunderstanding.

In the 2002 incident, Pierce pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault causing injury. He received a deferred judgment, so the charge was erased from his record after he successfully completed a year of probation, counseling and 200 hours of community service.

Parrish, told AP that Iowa officials acted prematurely in taking action against Pierce.

"They [the university] should have waited until all the facts were out," Parrish said. "By them jumping way ahead of the curve ... we believe they have not acted either in the best interest of the university or the best interest of the students, and clearly not in the best interest of Pierre Pierce."

Bowlsby said Pierce's academic status is not affected. The fourth-year junior might still finish up school this semester and is close to graduating. He was planning on declaring for the NBA draft and will continue on that path depending on the outcome of his case, according to the source.

The Hawkeyes will start either Mike Henderson or Carlton Reed in Pierce's place against Michigan State on Saturday. They expect more scoring to come from these two as well as Greg Brunner (14 ppg), Jeff Horner (13.6 ppg), Adam Haluska (12.4 ppg) and Erek Hansen (6.1 ppg) in Pierce's absence.



posted on Feb, 5 2005 @ 12:45 PM
Pierce releases statement, weighing options

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa coach Steve Alford's decision to dismiss Pierre Pierce from the basketball team didn't depend on whether police would file criminal charges against the star guard.

Pierce, 21, the Hawkeyes' leading scorer, is under investigation by West Des Moines police.

In a statement released Thursday, Pierce acknowledged having an argument with his girlfriend.

"At the appropriate time, all of the facts will be disclosed, putting the matter into context," he said.

Alford said Thursday the investigation and questions about Pierce's behavior left him with no alternative, especially after Pierce was allowed to return to the team after facing sexual assault charges two years ago.

"It had nothing to do whether you're looking at charges being pressed or not. That had no bearing on my decision," Alford said in his first public comments dismissing Pierce on Wednesday.

"It had to do with the betrayal of trust that was set up for him, and he was not able to continue that line of trust. Because of that the only option I had was to dismiss Pierre from the team," he said.

West Des Moines police met with Pierce and his attorney, Alfredo Parrish, for more than two hours Wednesday night in Iowa City. Sgt. Mike Ficcola said the investigation is ongoing and declined Thursday to say when detectives would forward their findings to prosecutors.

Pierce said he is exploring several options, including transferring to another school, litigation and appealing his dismissal from the team.

Pierre's father, Maurice Pierce, told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday he and his family are taking the case "one step at a time. My whole thing is that there haven't been any charges."

In 2002, Pierce was charged with third-degree sexual abuse. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault causing injury, but the case and the way in which it was handled by university administrators triggered two faculty-led inquiries.

Pierce sat out the 2002-03 season, taking it as a redshirt year to avoid losing a year of eligibility, and returned to the Hawkeyes last season.

In 20 games this year, Pierce has led the team in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game. Alford said it would be difficult to replace Pierce on the court.

"But I also think it's a tremendous opportunity" for some of the team's younger players, said Alford, whose team plays at home Saturday against Michigan State (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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