AUSTIN (KXAN) — The NFL suspended Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games for violating its personal conduct policy, according to ESPN.
For more than a year the league has been investigating allegations that Elliott assaulted his then-girlfriend in February and July of 2016. The Associated Press reported he’s been meeting with NFL officials. Last year Ohio prosecutors decided to not pursue the case, but the NFL can suspend a player without legal charges.
League investigators interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including the alleged victim, as well as examined thousands of text messages and other evidence. In a statement, Todd Jones, the NFL’s special counsel for conduct, said the advisors came to the decision because there was “substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against [the alleged victim] on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”
Elliott has denied the allegations and is expected to appeal his suspension. He has three days to do so.
His suspension begins on Sept. 2 He is still eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. Even if the suspension stands, he would be eligible to return on Monday, Oct. 23, following the Cowboy’s Oct. 22 game against the 49ers.
A six-game suspension is the minimum for players who the NFL determines have committed domestic violence. Those rules changed in 2014 following outrage after a video showed Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiance in an elevator. He was initially suspended for two games, sparking outrage.
Two months after the incident, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell traveled to Austin to speak with the National Domestic Violence Hotline about how to reduce domestic violence in the league. The league committed to a multi-year partnership with the organization.