NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma has suspended freshman running back Joe Mixon for the season after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.
Mixon, one of the nation’s top recruits and a potential starter, is accused of knocking a woman unconscious with a punch and breaking several bones in her face last month.
A release from the school Monday said university President David Boren accepted the recommendation of athletic director Joe Castiglione and coach Bob Stoops to suspend Mixon. He will be excluded from all team activities and removed from the team roster.
After Monday’s practice, Stoops chose not to talk about Mixon.
“That’s not something I’m going to delve into right now, because it leads to further questions in that regard, and I’m going to talk about the guys that are eligible to play right now,” Stoops said.
The school said with appropriate conditions, Mixon will be permitted to continue as a student, eligible for financial aid.
“As the university has demonstrated in the past, we are committed to winning the right way,” the school said in the release. “As an example to others, OU sets the highest possible standards for its student athletes, coaches and staff.”
According to a probable cause affidavit released by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office, the alleged victim told police Mixon directed a homosexual slur at her friend and there was an argument. The affidavit said that according to surveillance video, the woman then pushed Mixon and Mixon lunged at her. The woman then slapped Mixon in the face, and he reacted by punching her in the face. She fell onto a table, then to the ground, and Mixon then left the scene. The woman suffered a fractured jaw, broken cheek bone, fractured sinus and ‘fractured orbit’ near her left eye.
Mixon’s lawyer, Kevin Finlay, said in a statement last week that he felt the woman should have been charged with assault and battery. He was disappointed that Mixon was charged with the misdemeanor.
“As we have maintained from the beginning, it is our belief that Joe reacted instinctively after being racially slurred and physically assaulted by a highly intoxicated young woman and her male friend,” Finlay said. “We strongly disagree with the series of events as portrayed by Norman PD. Justice knows no gender bias, and we do not believe that Joe’s actions were criminal in nature.”
Stoops wouldn’t say why he suggested the one-year ban.
“I’m not going to address the timetable,” he said. “It is what it is. We made a decision here today that was announced and that’s all I’m going to say about it. I can’t say anything else in regard to it.”
The decision is important for a team that opens the season ranked No. 4 and has national championship aspirations. The team lost its top two rushers from last season. The coaches say Keith Ford and Alex Ross have been the top two in camp so far, but they combined for just 26 carries last season. Freshman Samaje Perine also is in the picture.
“A lot of those guys are gonna need to play for us,” quarterback Trevor Knight said. “Samaje Perine’s been a hammer in there, just pounding the football, doing a really good job. Keith Ford’s been doing a great job. Alex Ross has been doing a great job and Daniel Brooks and David Smith — they’re getting in there and making plays.”
Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said he doesn’t expect the running back competition to be decided before the season starts.
“Ultimately, on game day, we’re going to find out who the guy is,” he said. “Hopefully, somebody gets the hot hand and we can ride him that way.”