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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, September 25, 2003

Owens 'surprised' by two-game suspension

 •  Rice can't avoid island's beauty
Rice is ahead of the class when it comes to academics

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer


Saturday's game: Hawai'i vs. Rice

Kickoff: 6:05 p.m, Aloha Stadium
University of Hawai'i starting slotback Chad Owens was suspended for two football games because he misled coaches about his travel plans following last Friday's game in Las Vegas.

Owens yesterday said he was "totally surprised" by the punishment, which he claimed was a result of not notifying UH coach June Jones of his plan to return to Honolulu on a separate flight — and a day later — than his teammates and for missing the newly scheduled practice Sunday. The Warriors returned on a charter flight early Saturday morning.

But people familiar with the situation said the suspension was decided after Jones learned that Owens bought a separate return ticket four months ago.

Jones, who announced the suspension publicly on his radio show Tuesday night, declined to elaborate yesterday.

"He knows what it's about, I know what it's about," Jones said. "I don't comment about things that happen within our locker room."

"It was all a miscommunication," Owens said, adding he had told assistant coach Ron Lee of his plans to remain in Las Vegas an extra day.

"(Lee) thought I had told Coach Jones, I thought he had told Coach Jones," Owens said. "Nothing ever came back up to me. I thought everything was all good."

Owens mentioned to Lee the possibility of seeking an extension in June, a UH spokesman said.

"If I was told (of Owens') plans and gave him permission, I should be the one who should be reprimanded," said Lee, who declined further comment on the matter.

According to team policy, only Jones is allowed to grant extended stays to players. What's more, players are required to fill out permission forms to apply for the extensions.

Owens said his stepfather, James Voss, was arrested for allegedly fighting at the game. Owens said his family plans to file a complaint against officers who made the arrest.

"I think it's far from over," he said. "I'll pursue it, and see what we'll get out of it. What they did up there was wrong."

Because of that incident and the outcome — Nevada-Las Vegas won, 33-22 — Owens said he "barged out of the locker room" after the game.

"I didn't say nothing to nobody," said Owens, who caught a TD pass against the Rebels. "I'm upset about the game, I'm upset about the situation (involving his stepfather). I just bounced."

Later, he called an assistant coach, who was at the airport, to notify him of the arrest. During the team's return flight Saturday morning, Jones announced a practice would be scheduled the next day. The Warriors usually do not practice on Sundays.

"(Jones) didn't know (about Owens' plans) until ... Sunday's practice," Owens said. "He went through all of the trouble of calling around to see if I had a flight back, this and that. He went out of his way to make sure I was all right. I think that's what made him upset, that I already had booked a flight, and it was a while back."

Owens said he believed his punishment would be to run after practices this week and attend extra film sessions with Lee.

When told of the suspension before Tuesday's practice, Owens said, "I was totally surprised. I was caught off guard. It was like a side blind. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do — whether to practice, sit around, walk off."

Owens added: "I can't disagree with (Jones). What he said is true. But like I said, I'd never put myself in a situation where I would miss games, especially for a reason like this. ... If I messed up anywhere in the situation, it's that four months ago I booked the flight (and) before that, I should have went straight to Coach Jones and let him know."

Of his family's experience in Las Vegas, Owens said, "They're not happy. It was an unpleasant time for us. They gave us a hard time up there. It was bad."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8051.