Matt Kavanaugh couldn’t attend classes at Dayton while being suspended for a year for violating the school’s code of conduct, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t learn a thing or two during his time away.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound center said the disciplinary measures taken by UD taught him some life lessons.
“I have to be aware that I need to hold myself to a higher standard and that I’m representing more than myself,” he said. “I’m representing my family, the university and the basketball program.”
Kavanaugh was reinstated by UD on Wednesday and will be on full scholarship for his senior season in 2013-14. He seemed apprehensive as he met the media outside the men’s basketball office and looked leaner than he did during his last public appearance a year ago.
He was listed by police as a suspect in a sexual assault investigation involving a 17-year-old UD student last August, although no charges were filed. (His parents said at the time they disagreed with the university’s decision to suspend him.) He repeatedly refused to discuss the actions that led to his suspension, but he admitted mistakes were made.
“I just know a lot of people have been affected with all that’s gone on,” he said. “I’m really sorry for anyone who’s been impacted by all this. I’m really looking forward to putting everything behind me and having a successful senior school year.”
UD coach Archie Miller kept a scholarship open, though he said he wasn’t sure whether the school would allow Kavanaugh to return. That decision was made a couple of weeks ago.
Miller wanted to see some remorse — and did.
“I think the biggest thing for him is he’s sorry,” the second-year coach said. “When you go through something like that, you learn a lot about opportunity. You learn a lot about privileges. One thing you’ve got right now in him is he’s someone who knows things shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“I think Matt has grown up a lot. I’m just anxious to get him back in the fold and continue to coach him. I know what he’s all about right now and feel very, very confident that we’re going to be able to lead him to the finish line. That’s our job.”
Kavanaugh, who averaged about nine points and six rebounds as a junior starter, said he’s been diligent about staying in shape. He’s been lifting weights and doing basketball workouts.
But he wasn’t allowed on campus until the second semester ended in April. He’ll take one class during the first summer session, which starts Monday.
Teri Rizvi, UD’s associate vice president for university communications, wouldn’t give specifics about Kavanaugh’s reinstatement but indicated the school took a strong stance given the facts in the case.
As for the decision to readmit him, she said: “He fulfilled the obligations laid out for him. We took the issue seriously. We reviewed it really carefully, as we would for any student.”
Athletic Director Tim Wabler said: “I feel very strongly the decision the university made to readmit him is the right decision — not only for the university, but for Matt.”
The family of the alleged victim, though, had hoped for a different outcome.
“We think the University of Dayton is a fine institution,” her father told the Dayton Daily News in an email. “At the same time we feel strongly that the universities (sic) decision to readmit Kavanaugh is less than prudent and borderline reckless.”
Bringing Kavanaugh back is likely a divisive issue even among Flyer fans. And though they’re probably too polite to razz him at home, the Centerville product could be subjected to some heckling on the road.
“I really can’t worry about what I can’t control. I can’t control how other people feel or what they say,” he said. “I just have to do my best on what I can control, and that’s working hard in the classroom, graduating and helping the team.”
Kavanaugh said he took two classes while away, one at Sinclair and another at Franklin University. He said he needs seven credits to graduate.
He also kept track of the team from afar.
“I watched every game on TV. I was rooting for them every step of the way,” he said. “I wish I could have been out there with them, but I can’t worry about that now. I have to be focused on helping the team win this year.”
The Dayton Daily News first reported on this story when Matt Kavanaugh was suspended by UD in October 2012. Our reporters have stuck with the story to give you the latest linformation.