A “secret arbitration ruling” within the league is helping Brandon Austin to have an opportunity to play in the NBA, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Austin faced separate sexual assault allegations at two schools—Oregon and Providence—during his collegiate career and while he was never charged a crime, he was kicked off of both basketball teams.
Last summer, the league sent a memo to all 30 franchises which instructed any team interested in signing either Austin or another unnamed player to call the NBA office, sources tell Lowe. Teams that called the league were told about the allegations and the teams were warned that the two players could face discipline once they signed with a club.
The National Basketball Players Association felt the league had overstepped its boundaries. It filed an arbitration claim and the arbitrator agreed that the NBA could not fine or suspend players for allegations which occurred prior to entering the league. The league then sent a follow-up memo to all teams which told teams that it had the authority to “disapprove” any contract of a player based on Adam Silver’s broad authority. The league’s constitution states that “all players shall be of good moral character.”
In all, the ruling stated that the league can reject any contract, but can not impose punishment for a prior act once a contract is signed.
Austin worked out with the Sixers last week, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The 6’7″ point guard previously talked to Pompey about the past allegations, stating that “everything was consensual.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Austin told Pompey last summer. “The intention wasn’t wrong. I just made a mistake. A lot of people make mistakes. I just grew from it, and I continue to [grow] today.”
The Sixers told Pompey that they are only making their gym available for Austin as they have and will do for local NBA and D-League players this summer.