Buffalo Bills punter Matt Ariza walks on the sideline during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts on August 13, 2022 in Orchard Park, NY. The Buffalo Bills cut Ariza from the team on Saturday, August 27 , two days later a lawsuit was filed against the player and two college teammates for allegedly gang-raping a teenage girl last fall.
Adrian Krause, File | AP Photo
The Buffalo Bills released punter Matt Ariza, one of the NFL’s rising stars, on Saturday, days after Accused in civil case Raping a teenage girl at a college party.
The team’s general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott announced the move. Bain said Ariza needs to focus on the allegations and that the alleged conduct would make the player “a no-go for us” if true.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, details the accuser’s account of meeting Ariaza at an off-campus Halloween party on Oct. 17, 2021, when he played for San Diego State University.
Araiza denies the rape allegations and other aspects of the case.
“The facts of the incident are not what the case or the media are portraying,” he said in a statement shared Friday evening. Twitter By Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Court, alleges that Ariza, who was 21 at the time, gave a then 17-year-old girl an alcoholic drink, asked her to perform oral sex and had sex with her in the backyard before taking her away. A bedroom, where she and two other men allegedly gang-raped her.
She reported the matter to authorities the next day and underwent a rape test, the lawsuit said. The school said San Diego police requested the pause to begin its own Title IX investigation to give detectives the necessary time off.
Earlier this month, the San Diego Police Department sent the results of its investigation to the local district attorney without making any arrests, which said the matter is still under review.
San Diego State said that as of July 22, police said it was free to continue its own investigation.
The Buffalo Bills, who fielded backup quarterback Matt Barkley in place of Ariza in Friday night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, said the suit was a surprise.
Ariza was drafted in the sixth round and came to Buffalo last year as the best punter in college football.
Ariza’s lawyer, Kerry L. Armstrong, via email Saturday night, said Ariza was “very disappointed but not upset about the bill.”
“He’s staying positive and knows he’ll be back in the NFL eventually,” Armstrong said.
The party said in a statement Friday that it was recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Ariza.
Bean reiterated that at a press conference on Saturday he announced that Araiza was being released. He added that the team became aware of the allegations in late July.
“We tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment,” Bain said, adding that the information they had was limited.
He said a culture of following the law and good behavior are key to the Bills and that the team would not have hired Araiza if it had known about the allegations.
“We didn’t know about this and the league didn’t know about this,” Bean said.
“It’s bigger than football,” Bean said.