OU's Peterson suspended from practice

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says he'll decide
later this week whether suspended tailback Adrian Peterson will
start Saturday against UCLA.

"We'll determine that as the week goes," Stoops said Tuesday.
"We'll see. At this point, we anticipate him playing. Start or not
depends on how we feel practice is going, what we feel we need to
do. Depending on what further happens from here, we'll see."

Peterson, who rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns in
Oklahoma's 31-15 win against Tulsa on Saturday, was suspended from
practice on Monday and Tuesday after missing classes but was
allowed to participate in team meetings and other activities. He is
not being allowed to speak to reporters and returned to practice Wednesday.

Peterson's suspension was a result of a new Oklahoma athletic
department policy on class attendance implemented this year. Under
the policy, obtained by The Associated Press, athletes who
accumulate four unexcused absences are suspended from practice for
two days. For each subsequent absence, athletes are suspended for
the next scheduled competition.

Athletes can also lose other privileges, including complimentary
game admissions and athletic awards, and be excluded from competing
in postseason play. Coaches can institute other attendance
guidelines, as long as athletes are notified in writing at the
beginning of the academic year.

Athletic director Joe Castiglione said the new approach was one
of the university's strategies to improve academic performance and
retention and make sure athletes are progressing toward their

"This is just one element of a number of things that we are
doing," Castiglione said.

Stoops said he supported the policy and even helped suggest it
to Gerald Gurney, the school's associate athletic director for
academic programs.

"In the end, they're here to go to school, and it should be our
job as administrators or as coaches that if they're not, we can't
put you on the field," Stoops said.

Oklahoma announced the suspension in a statement sent to a
limited number of news organizations following the Sooners' closed
practice Monday night. Stoops said he didn't have to announce it at

"I probably shouldn't have said [Monday], but everyone finds
out anyway,'' Stoops said. " ... In fairness to him, it probably
doesn't need to be me coming out and saying that. In the end,
that's the situation, and it's better than all the rumors being
around about it."

Peterson's suspension came nine days after the team's starting
quarterback, Rhett Bomar, was cited for possession of alcohol by a
minor. Bomar is 20.

"We're doing things discipline-wise, and everything else like
we always have," Stoops said. "That doesn't mean it's right or
good, and it's fair to criticize me because some teams accept it
better than others and listen or are disciplined better than
others. You can put it on both of us."

Stoops said most teams have different disciplinary issues to
deal with each year, and the actions by two key starters didn't
mean the school was softer in its dealings with violations.

"It'd be fair to say we're tougher now because maybe in the
past, have we taken a guy off the field for missing class?" Stoops
said. "Maybe we're more disciplined now. Maybe we're tougher

Senior tailback Kejuan Jones, who was Oklahoma's starter before
Peterson took over and has since become the backup, said he spoke
with Peterson about missing class.

"That's just one of those deals. That kind of happens to
everybody," Jones said. "He knows we're going to need him. He's
going to play this week. I just told him to keep his head up and
stay in the film room still."

After the win against Tulsa, Peterson said he was trying to
become one of the team's leaders. He set an NCAA freshman record
with 1,925 rushing yards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy
voting, but that team had numerous senior leaders.

"That's a role I've got to pick up. Be a leader," Peterson
said Saturday. "Normally, I don't say much. I just go out there
and run the ball, but I know right now I'm going to have to start
talking and getting the team pumped up."

When asked whether Peterson had been becoming a leader, Stoops'
reaction was mixed.

"He has been in the way we work. I'm going to tell you there is
not a guy who goes at it harder in the weight room in the summer
and on the field. You watch him, the way he plays determined,"
Stoops said.

"But there are other parts of what we do here as college
students and on a college team that also need to be fulfilled."