Oregon suspends running back LeGarrette Blount for season after punching Boise State player

By Anne M. Peterson, AP
Friday, September 4, 2009

Oregon suspends Blount for season for punch

EUGENE, Ore. — After watching the tape of the punch that Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount threw at Boise State’s Byron Hout, Ducks first-year coach Chip Kelly knew what he had to do.

On Friday he told a sobbing Blount of his decision: That punch would cost Blount the season, and ultimately his career with the Ducks.

“He understands that his actions are unacceptable. We will not put up with that,” Kelly said. “That is not the University of Oregon football, that is not the University of Oregon.”

Blount punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw following the 16th-ranked Ducks’ 19-8 loss to the 14th-ranked Broncos on Thursday night.

Celebrating the victory on the Broncos’ trademark blue turf, Hout yelled in Blount’s face and tapped him on the shoulder pad. Before Boise State coach Chris Petersen could pull Hout away, Blount landed a right to Hout’s jaw, knocking him to his knees.

Blount also had to be restrained by police from fans heckling him on the way to the locker room.

Later he apologized saying, “It was just something that I shouldn’t have done. I lost my head.”

While Blount’s suspension includes bowl games, the senior will remain on scholarship and will continue to practice with the team.

Kelly said he hoped Blount’s ultimate legacy “won’t be a YouTube clip of what happened to him on September 3rd in Boise, Idaho.”

“How he moves forward from this day is entirely up to him,” Kelly said. “I have confidence in LeGarrette that he’ll make it right.”

Hout won’t be suspended for taunting Blount. Boise State spokesman Max Corbet told The Associated Press in an e-mail that Petersen planned to spend time with Hout this week to help him learn from what happened.

Mike Bellotti, who stepped aside as head coach to become Oregon’s athletic director this summer, said the Pac-10 was consulted about the punishment and supported Oregon’s decision.

“(We hope) LeGarrette Blount does something positive and makes something of himself and graduates from this university. And I think we have given him that opportunity,” Bellotti said. “And yet, as coach Kelly has mentioned, we don’t believe he deserves to represent the university on the field anymore.”

Oregon president Richard Lariviere called Blount’s behavior “reprehensible.”

“We do not and will not tolerate the actions that were taken by our player. Oregon’s loyal fans expect and deserve better,” Lariviere said in a statement.

Blount, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound transfer from East Mississippi CC, rushed for 1,002 yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns last season.

On Thursday night, he had eight carries for a loss of five yards.

In February, Blount was suspended indefinitely from the team for “failure to fulfill team obligations.” Bellotti did not share details, but Blount reportedly missed offseason team meetings.

He was reinstated before spring practice.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was at the game and saw the punch.

“We commend the University of Oregon and its leadership for taking swift and decisive action in response to this incident,” Scott said in a statement.

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