Gophers' Reggie Lynch suspended after alleged sexual assault

University of Minnesota Athletics Director Mark Coyle confirms Gopher basketball player Reggie Lynch has been suspended from athletic competition in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place back in 2016.

MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota center Reggie Lynch is suspended from athletic competition after he was found in violation of the school's sexual misconduct policy.

Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle confirmed that Lynch will not play Saturday, a decision Coyle says he made in consultation with Men's Basketball Coach Richard Pitino. Coyle did add that Lynch can still practice with the basketball team at this time.

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Pitino told reporters he has talked with Lynch about the situation but did not divulge details of the conversation. He said his number one job at this point is preparing his team for Saturday's game against Indiana.

Investigative documents from the school's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) shared with KARE 11 reveal that Lynch was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his Roy Wilkins Hall dorm room on April 28, 2016. She told our Jana Shortal she didn't report it to the EOAA until Fall of 2017. The report indicates that after an investigation the EOAA found that Lynch had violated the U of M's Student Conduct Code by engaging in sexual misconduct, which is defined as:

any non-consensual behavior of a sexual nature that is committed by force or intimidation, or that is otherwise unwelcome. Sexual misconduct includes the following behaviors: sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual or gender-based harassment.

The EOAA documents say Lynch will be suspended from the University, its basketball program and is banned from campus beginning January 9, which means he will lose all student rights and privileges until August of 2020. Lynch does have the right to appeal the ruling, which would result in a formal hearing. At that point, a hearing panel would make a ruling on the suspension.

This is not the first time sexual assault allegations have been made against Lynch. The Edina native was arrested and briefly jailed on May 8, 2016 after a woman accused him of raping her. Prosecutors eventually decided they did not have enough evidence to charge the case, and Lynch was reinstated to the basketball program later that fall.

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When pressed by reporters on when the athletic department found out about the most recent allegations against Lynch and why he continued to play basketball, Coyle repeatedly cited federal and state privacy laws as the reason he could not comment specifically on this case. "With our process in place, any student-athlete, if there's a criminal investigation taking place, that athlete does not participate," he explained in a general sense. "Any student-athlete involved in a EOAA process (as Lynch was) can participate until findings are made against him or her."

The 23-year-old Lynch is one of the nation's top defensive players, averaging 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game. He is a key player in the Gophers rotation.

In the fiscal year of 2017, The University of Minnesota's Office of EOAA received 369 sexual misconduct reports.

The EOAA, which investigates complaints about sexual harassment, is a neutral third party made up of seven people. All seven investigators have a background in law. According to the University's website, investigators strive to complete investigations within 75 days but some may take longer. During that investigation, the person who initiated the complaint and the individual accused are often interviewed. Also part of the process, people involved will receive written notice about the alleged misconduct as well as a timeline for hearings where additional witnesses could also be questioned.