Huskies move on without suspended Austin Seferian-Jenkins


SEATTLE — From the start of Tuesday night’s practice, Keith Price understood it was not business as usual for the Washington offense. One of its main receiving threats, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, was absent.

“Oh, yeah, it was weird,” the Huskies quarterback said. “You definitely feel his energy and his athleticism when he’s out there. So it’s a lot different.”

The question now is how long the Huskies will have to play without Seferian-Jenkins, who was indefinitely suspended after an incident Saturday night in which he was cited for drunken driving following a one-car accident in north Seattle.

The case has been forwarded to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, which awaits toxicology results from Seferian-Jenkins before deciding on charges. That process could take several weeks.

Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday that Seferian-Jenkins won’t be allowed to participate in any team activities during the investigation.

After the investigation is complete, Sarkisian said, “We will make the decisions necessary based on our team rules and our school’s policies that are fair to him and fair to us, and we will move forward and we will support him.”

That leaves it unclear if Seferian-Jenkins will miss any games next fall, or if he will return in time for any spring practices. Washington concludes spring football with its annual Spring Game on April 20 at Memorial Stadium.

Sarkisian said the decision to indefinitely suspend Seferian-Jenkins, regarded as a preseason All-American candidate, was in keeping with the school’s student-athlete code of conduct.

That code reads, in part: “When a student-athlete has been arrested or charged with a violation of criminal law, the student-athlete will be placed on administrative suspension from all team activities pending further investigation.

“If the alleged criminal activity would constitute a misdemeanor offense, the head coach may lift the administrative suspension after obtaining the approval of the sport administrator. If the alleged criminal activity would constitute a felony, the administrative suspension may be lifted only upon authorization of the Director of Athletics.”

As for further penalties, the code states: “Violations of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and the discipline imposed for a violation shall depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. … Possible sanctions by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics include warnings, reprimands, mandatory counseling, community service, probation, suspension from team activities, dismissal from the team, and revocation/reduction/non-renewal of athletically-related financial aid.”

Sarkisian said the incident has been tough on him as a coach. He said he is as close to the Gig Harbor High School graduate as anyone on the team.”And that’s the part that hurts, when you see one of your kids make a mistake, just as if it was one of your own,” he said. “It stings because you look at yourself and (ask), ‘Could I have done more? Could I have helped them any more? Could I have helped them make better decisions?’

“But I do know Austin is in the right frame of mind, that he is going to learn from this and he will be better for it the end, and I think our entire football team will, as well.”

The Huskies will have to move on without Seferian-Jenkins, who was named as UW’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player in 2012. He caught 69 passes for 850 yards, each school records for a tight end.

Washington has three other scholarship tight ends on the roster — juniors Michael Hartvigson and Evan Hudson and sophomore Josh Perkins. David Ajamu of Shelton also will arrive in the fall.

While Seferian-Jenkins has caught 110 passes the past two years, Bothell High grads Hartvigson and Hudson have combined for 20. Perkins, who came to UW as a receiver and continues to work at that spot, will be asked to play more tight end with Seferian-Jenkins out. He has yet to make a catch at UW.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @bcondotta