Ducks suspend star Cliff Harris after speeding incident

Ducks suspend star Cliff Harris after speeding incident
Cliff Harris

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon football team suspended star player Cliff Harris indefinitely on Wednesday after he was pulled over for driving 118 miles per hour with a suspended license.

The suspension means Harris will miss at least the Ducks season-opening game versus Louisiana State University, head coach Chip Kelly said in a statement.

Kelly said that Harris’ status following the Sept. 3 game will depend on if he can follow established team standards.

“Cliff’s future clearly is in Cliff’s hands,” Kelly said. “Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program clearly rests far beyond a player’s ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard. Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged.”

Read the statement from the University of Oregon

Harris was pulled over Sunday morning by an Oregon State Trooper on Interstate 5 near Albany. The trooper said he was driving 118 miles per hour.

Kelly said the suspension was based on more than just that single incident and was independent of any legal rulings or potential NCAA rules violations.

According to Lane County Deputy Court Administrator Carmen Phillips, Harris also had a speeding ticket from May 1. He failed to show up for a court hearing on that charge and was found guilty by default, she said. He had until Wednesday evening to pay that fine or face being sent to collections. As of 3:30 p.m., he had not paid.

The suspension will be a major blow for the Ducks. Harris broke out as a star on both defense and special teams during the 2010 season. He set the UO single-season record for punts returned for touchdowns with four. He also returned one interception for a touchdown.

The UO also faces potential NCAA violations stemming from the incident. A UO employee admitted she rented the car that Harris was driving, although she said Harris paid her for the rental.

Athletic department spokesman Dave Williford said there is a possibility the woman violated NCAA rules by giving Harris the car. He said UO officials have talked with the employee and will continue talking to her.

The school has also alerted the Pac-10 conference about the possible violation.