NEW YORK -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games without pay Wednesday for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy and ordered to undergo behavioral evaluation.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement a week after prosecutors decided not to charge Roethlisberger after a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March.
Goodell said the league's conduct policy gave him the right to impose discipline.
"I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you," he said in his letter to the two-time Super Bowl winner, a six-year veteran.
"My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans."
Roethlisberger must undergo a "comprehensive behavioral evaluation by medical professionals" and may not attend any team offseason activities until that evaluation is completed.
The suspension could be reduced to four games for good behavior. Sitting out all six games would cost him an estimated $2.8 million.