BY Todd Dybas 06:05PM 03/13/2011

Huskies’ Overton: Words were punishment

The formerly suspended Washington guard return for the NCAA Tournament. Sunday he spoke about the investigation, charge and suspension he dealt with for the first time.

Washington guard Venoy Overton says having his reputation sullied was a harsh punishment. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Washington’s return to the NCAA Tournament means a return to the court for previously suspended guard Venoy Overton.

Overton joined his teammates Sunday afternoon to watch the NCAA selection show in the Don James Center. Washington is a No. 7 seed and will play 10th-seeded Georgia in the first round of the tournament Friday in Charlotte, NC.

He watched Washington win three games in three days at the Pac-10 Tournament to automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard said it was difficult to be unable to play.

“After a while it’s like they’re getting it done and I couldn’t just sulk  — just coach from the bench,” Overton said.

He was suspended Tuesday by coach Lorenzo Romar after being charged with providing alcohol to minors, a gross misdemeanor. Overton was the subject of a police investigation following a Jan. 8 episode in which a 16-year-old girl, the same one for whom Overton was charged with supplying liquor, made an allegation of rape. Prosecutors declined to file a charge, citing insufficient evidence. Overton was not suspended because he was never charged.

Romar said at the time of the suspension Overton would be reinstated if Washington advanced to the tournament. Now, he gets his second chance.

The senior guard’s punishment was a large debate among fans and media. Too lenient? Just right? He says he felt punished beyond the suspension from the team.

“I felt like just all that was being said was a bigger punishment than sitting out,” Overton said. “Just the fact that this is my hometown. You don’t want the reputation of being known for that. I felt it was a big enough punishment.

“Some people in the media were saying stuff that wasn’t accurate. It was very serious. But people really didn’t know what they we’re talking about. I’m just thankful for my lawyer handling it the way he did.”

Overton was derided by fans on the road, particularly during the game at Washington State. Even in KeyArena against Seattle University, Overton heard a smattering of chants focused on him.

It’s difficult to quantify what level of distraction the investigation into Overton’s conduct was to the team. There are numbers that make strong suggestions, however. Washington finished the season 5-6, including losing two of three at home to close the regular season.

Then Overton’s charge came and suspension followed. Washington had resolution to the issue, for what it was worth.

“It was definitely a distraction just because it was talked about,” Overton said. “I felt bad that had to be for the school and the fans. I just really appreciate everybody that supported me.”

Romar said he couldn’t measure the level of distraction.

“Who can say?” Romar said. “For whatever reason though, we went out there and we played right for three days.”

Overton will be back at a light shootaround with the team Monday, followed by intense practice Tuesday and Wednesday.

He was playing his best basketball all season prior to the suspension. His removal from Pac-10 tournament participation left Washington with Isaiah Thomas as the team’s lone point guard for three days.

“I feel like I can hopefully just keep going from where I left off, so Isaiah doesn’t have to play as many minutes like he did, and help him,” Overton said. “I appreciate my coach. I’ve been through a lot here and he understands. I’m blessed to be able to play another game with this team that I love.”

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  • SeattleNative

    Humility, contrition, suggestions of sorrow? Didn’t hear it. VO still doesn’t get it. Sounds more like he feels sorry for himself. Thank God for Romar, his work is unfinished. VO needs to take responsibility and apologize. Apologize to whom? We’ll see if he can figure it out.

  • JM

    I agree with SeattleNative, but remember that charges have been filed against him with all the court proceedings yet to come. I would like to hear him apologize, but my guess is that his lawyer isn’t allowing him to address the specifics of that night.

  • JD

    I heard all of those. He just didn’t say it the way you wanted to hear it. Even if he personaly apologized to you, you wouldn’t accept it. The only people he needs to personaly say I’m sorry to is his teammates and a major representative of the school, which Romar is. VENOY OVERTON is going to represent the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON in the NCAA’s and its not debatable. Your choice is to get on board or sulk. Go get’m Venoy!

  • Barbados

    He should have just smoked dope “illegal” like everyone else in the NCAA’s, and just miss one game. His punishment for supplying booze “legal” to minors is harsh in comparisons.

  • Big John

    Harsh by comparison? He had sex with a 16 year old that he got drunk. The rape charges were dropped because the couldn’t prove that the sex wasn’t consensual, but it is still sex with a 16 year old who he provided alcohol to. Do you have a young daughter. Maybe VO can date her?

  • red devil

    Line play is the backbone of football. We are not there yet. Witness the Nebraska, Stanford & Oregon game.
    Sark & Carroll are drinking the same kool aid on fourth down, they need a reality check.