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QB Masoli’s dismissal caps stunning fall from grace

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EUGENE, Ore.  — Jeremiah Masoli finished last season at the Rose Bowl, already bestowed with Heisman Trophy buzz. Most agreed he had the potential to do something special at Oregon this season.

Just five months later, Masoli, a Saint Louis School alum, is a disgraced former Duck, dumped from the team for wasting a second chance in a stunning fall from grace.

Masoli was pulled over by police on Monday night in Springfield, Ore., for failing to stop when exiting a driveway. Police say he was driving on a suspended license and there was a small amount of marijuana in the glove box.

It was his second run-in with the law in less that six months. He pleaded guilty in a January theft at a fraternity house and was suspended for the entire upcoming season by Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Masoli, with one year of eligibility remaining, was allowed to practice with the team while suspended, but he was warned to stay out of trouble.

A brief statement released by the university on Wednesday said Masoli was dismissed “for a failure to adhere to obligations previously outlined by head football coach Chip Kelly.”

Kelly would not comment further.

The university said Thursday that Masoli is not currently on scholarship because the term is over. It was not known whether he had completed his finals, but he would need to maintain his academic standing should he choose to transfer and use his final year of eligibility, said athletic department spokesman Dave Williford.

Attempts to contact Masoli were unsuccessful. There was no answer at the door of his apartment.

On New Year’s Day, Masoli played in Pasadena. Even though Oregon lost to Ohio State, the Ducks were elated to be in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995.

Masoli had directed an offense that racked up more than 37 points and 424 yards per game during the regular season while ending Southern California’s seven-year reign as Pac-10 champions.

But soon after the Rose Bowl, things began to unravel.

In late January, a student reported that a pair of football players had stolen a pair of laptops and a guitar from his fraternity house. He identified one of the players as Masoli.

Rumors swirled until Masoli was formally charged in March. Ultimately he pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and was immediately suspended by Kelly.

Masoli was cited for Monday’s noncriminal violations. He can either pay the fines associated with the citation or appear in Springfield Municipal Court on June 24.

It was unclear how the violations would impact the terms of his probation from the March guilty plea.

Darron Thomas, competing to take over as starting QB for the Ducks in the upcoming season, was in the car Monday when Masoli was stopped. Thomas was not cited and Oregon said he would not face discipline.

Masoli’s trouble comes in an offseason littered with player transgressions.

Running back LaMichael James, who set the Pac-10 freshman record with 1,546 yards rushing last season, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment in March for an altercation with his former girlfriend.

James was suspended for the season opener against New Mexico, as was place-kicker Rob Beard, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges connected to a street fight in January.

Others on the team who have gotten into trouble include linebacker Kiko Alonso, who was arrested on drunken driving charges. Alonso, who pleaded not guilty, was suspended for the upcoming season.

Defensive end Matt Simms was dismissed by Kelly after he was cited on assault charges last month. Simms pleaded guilty to physical harassment for striking a man he thought had beaten Beard.

Receiver Jamere Holland was dismissed from the team by Kelly after posting vulgar comments and criticizing Kelly on the Facebook social networking site.

But Masoli’s descent was by far the most dramatic. His dismissal Wednesday briefly drew attention away from opening day at the NCAA track and field championships at Oregon’s historic Hayward Field.

Jon Taylor, a Duck fan attending the meet on Thursday, had no sympathy for Masoli.

“He got his second chance, plain and simple,” Taylor said. “He blew it.”


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