Venoy Overton, the unnamed Washington Huskies player who was the subject of a police investigation earlier this year, has been formally charged with distributing liquor to a minor, a gross misdemeanor. As a result, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar suspended Overton from the team.
The point guard will not play for Washington in the Pac-10 tournament, though he will travel to Los Angeles with the team. If Washington plays beyond the tournament, as in the NCAA Tournament, Overton will be eligible to participate.
“It’s something that I’ve said all along that we take very seriously,” Romar said. “There have been some internal dealings with Venoy that I won’t get into because it’s family stuff, but I did not want to outwardly discipline him twice. I wanted to wait for this process to take its course.
“It was my intention all along that if something would happen, that further action would be taken from what’s already happened internally.”
His first appearance in Seattle Municipal Court will be at 2 p.m. April 1. The offense is punishable by up to a year in jail.
Initially, Overton was being investigated by Seattle Police Department for an alleged sexual assault on a 16-year-old after a Husky game on Jan. 8. After weeks of interviews and evidence gathering, the King County Prosecutor’s Office did not bring charges because of a lack to evidence.
The case was turned over to the Seattle Attorney’s office for the misdemeanor charge.
It tough. It’s sad,” said Isaiah Thomas, one of his best friends on the team. “I don’t even know what to say, someone close to you that, in his last year, to go down like that. It’s tough.”
Overton, a senior guard, is the Pac-10 active leader in assists (387) and steals (176). The Huskies leave Wednesday for the Pac-10 Tournament.
Romar said this has been the most difficult year for him at Washington since becoming head coach.
In addition to the investigation, Romar cited the loss of Tyreese Breshers for the season, followed by the loss of Abdul Gaddy for the season.
“This has been the toughest year since Ive been a coach here, for me,” Romar said. “You have a certain vision and you work hard for your program to be a certain way. You also want the best for your guys and, if something goes wrong and a guy makes a mistake, its always a setback. You always hate to see that happen. You make mistakes and there are consequences to deal with that.”
Romar said he thinks the Huskies lost thier confidence during a three-game road losing streak, which began in Pullman, then expanded to the Oregon schools. After that, he says the players were pressing mentally.
The Huskies’ opening opponent, Washington State, on the flip side, will welcome back its leading scorer Klay Thompson from a one-game suspension for marijuana possession. He’ll be ready for Thursday.
“What happened with Klay Thompson has no bearing on our decision here,” Romar said. “There were a lot of things to be considered here. Again, sometimes theres an outcry by the public that, something needs to be done. As far as Im concerned, behavior needs to change and we have to learn from our mistakes.”
“Mistakes are going to be made but every situation is different. I dont think you handle every situation the same way sometimes. Its important from here on out that we learn from this and go from here.”
There are more issues.
Senior small forward Justin Holiday, Washington’s top defender and the player who would oppose Thompson, suffered a concussion Saturday against USC. Holiday’s participation will be a game-time decision Thursday.
Holiday did not practice Monday or Tuesday.