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COLUMN | ENTERPRISE | FEATURE | GAME | LOOSE DEADLINE
FIRST PLACE: LOOSE DEADLINE
NORMAN, Okla. University of Oklahoma defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek was dismissed from the football team late Friday amid mounting allegations of violent behavior.
OU head football coach Bob Stoops announced the decision in a statement released by the school. Hours earlier, OU had announced Dvoracek had been indefinitely suspended and stripped of the title of team captain for his involvement in an altercation last Sunday morning that landed a friend in the hospital with a head injury.
But as allegations of two incidents were made by parents of three men, Stoops came to a more final conclusion Friday.
"I have learned more over the course of the day and now believe there is a sufficient pattern of behavior to merit Dusty's removal from the team," Stoops said in the statement.
Dvoracek, a senior who was an outspoken leader and honor-roll student, was expected to be one of the Sooners' best defensive players this season. Teammates elected him captain last month a position typically awarded to players for their character as well as their ability.
But Norman police are investigating Dvoracek's role in an incident early last Sunday morning. Sources said Dvoracek and Matt Wilde, 21, his former high school teammate, had been drinking, then argued.
There were indications the incident last weekend wasn't the first for Dvoracek. Other allegations of violence included reports of a fight last March in Norman and in 2002 in Addison, Texas. Also in 2002, the Cleveland County district attorney's office evaluated but declined to pursue a sexual assault complaint filed with OU police against Dvoracek.
Wilde, who was unconscious when he arrived at Norman Regional Hospital, spent five days in intensive care before he was moved to another room Thursday. A hospital spokesman said Friday that Wilde was in "good" condition.
Sources' accounts conflicted on whether the injuries occurred when Wilde was struck by Dvoracek or when he was pushed by Dvoracek and fell awkwardly, striking his head.
Norman police and an investigator from the Cleveland County district attorney's office have separately contacted Wilde and his family and been told Wilde didn't want to press charges. Police spokesman Lt. Tom Easley said officers were continuing to pursue leads in the incident.
"Because of the injuries, I have encouraged Norman Police Department to continue their investigation whether the victim wants to (press charges) or not," Cleveland County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall said. In the school's statement, Sports Information Director Kenny Mossman said OU "is cooperating fully with the appropriate authorities in their investigation."
Last March, Dvoracek was alleged to have broken a young Norman man's nose with a punch during an argument at Bison Witches, a bar in downtown Norman. The man's mother, who asked that she and her son not to be identified, said Friday her son declined to press charges after Dvoracek apologized and agreed to pay for medical bills and because they "chalked it up to drunk college kids."
Scared of Dvoracek'
Also Friday came allegations of an incident in Addison, Texas, in spring of 2002. Dvoracek, then a freshman at OU, and friends were alleged to have crashed a party and severely beat three men who attempted to stop them from leaving with a keg of beer and the keg tap.
Don Dugan, stepfather of two of the men, Brandon and Trenton Ballard of Grapevine, Texas, said he contacted Kuykendall and Norman police after learning of the alleged incident involving Dvoracek last weekend. "I told (the authorities) Dvoracek beat up my two stepboys," Dugan said. "They had black eyes, bloody lips and contusions. They told him he could take the keg but not the tapper. My sons owned it."
Requests to interview Dvoracek and OU coach Bob Stoops were declined Friday. Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Brandon Birmingham, who handled the 2002 case, did not return phone calls Friday.
The Oklahoman and Kuykendall separately pursued but didn't find records of the alleged assault in Addison or Dallas counties. Dvoracek does not have a record in Texas.
Neither Brandon Ballard nor Trenton Ballard could be reached Friday for comment. Dugan said against his wishes, his stepsons decided they didn't want to testify against Dvoracek. Dugan said he would provide court documents related to the case, but had not done so by Friday evening.
"They just wanted to (allow Dvoracek to) plea it out and pay medical bills and drop the charges, and that's what happened," Dugan said. "Once (the stepsons) are over 21, they can do what they want to do.
"My kids are scared of Dvoracek, I'll tell you right now. They don't want to be beaten up by him again." The man involved in last March's incident in Norman declined to answer questions about the incident but said, "I have received several personal apologies from Dusty Dvoracek, and I consider all matters between us to be fully resolved."
The man's mother said her son's nose was fractured, his eyes were swollen shut for three days and blackened for six weeks.
Comment of the judge, Gene Duffey: Well written and good job of research, talking with everyone involved in the case. Tracking down the father of guy that Dvoracek and his buddies beat up in Dallas made the story.
Second place: Ted Lewis, New Orleans Times-Picayune
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