SAN DIEGO — San Diego State University said Thursday there were "no findings" against NFL hopeful Matt Araiza in the school's investigation into an allegation that Aztec football players raped a then-17-year-old girl at an off-campus house party.
The school clarified that Araiza was not a named respondent in its investigation, which focused on whether anyone had violated the university's student code of conduct.
Araiza is one of three former Aztec players accused in a civil lawsuit of sexually assaulting the teen at an October 2021 house party near the campus.
All three men deny the allegations and say any contact with the teen was consensual. Araiza was 21 years old at the time.
SDSU said Araiza had given the university permission to comment on the investigation, and confirmed he was not a named respondent.
People are also reading…
Authorities from the university declined to comment or share specifics on others who may have been named as respondents to the investigation, nor would it speak to the outcome of proceedings or decisions. They did say that "none of the former students named in the civil suit are now the subject of an active investigation."
None of the former players named in the lawsuit is currently enrolled at the school.
The university's investigation was separate from the police investigation, which started when the teenager reported her allegations to San Diego police.
Police investigated for several months. In December, the county District Attorney's Office announced it would not file criminal charges in connection with the investigation.
During an audio recorded meeting hours before that announcement, the prosecutor who reviewed the case explained the decision to the woman, who had since turned 18.
The prosecutor also told the woman that after viewing short sexually graphic video clips of an encounter in a bedroom, she could not prove forcible rape. The prosecutor also could not prove anyone knew the teen was underage or could have been too intoxicated to give consent.
Araiza was not in any of the videos, according to the prosecutor, who said a witness said Araiza had left the party about a half-hour before the alleged assault in the bedroom.
On Tuesday, Araiza told the Union-Tribune that he "was never in the bedroom," nor had he been inside the house. He said he and the teenager had consensual sex in a side yard, and he believed she was 18 years old at the time.
Araiza's attorney issued a statement Thursday that his client "is very pleased with the finality of this determination and that it is official that he has now been officially exonerated of any wrongdoing or charges related to the SDSU internal investigation."
"He knew all along that serious false allegations were made against him," said Dick Semerdjian, who is representing Araiza in the civil suit.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represents the woman who reported she'd been raped, said earlier this week that the audio recording "does not vindicate (Araiza) in the slightest."
Gilleon has said the meeting with his client was designed to explain to her why prosecutors were not filing charges — the government has to prove charges in a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt — and so the focus was on information that could be seen as unfavorable, rather than on facts that support her case.
The woman's civil suit is pending.
Semerdjian said Araiza is "hopeful to resume his status as a proud and distinguished Aztec football program alumni as he continues his efforts to return back to the National Football League."
Araiza was named the nation's top collegiate punter in 2021; he set an NCAA record with a 51.19-yard punting average.
The Buffalo Bills picked the Rancho Bernardo High School graduate in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft — the first time in more than 30 years that the team had used a draft pick to obtain a punter. Within days of the civil lawsuit publicly accusing Araiza last August, the Bills dropped him.