Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is introduced before a...

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is introduced before a game between against the Seattle Seahawks in Charlotte, N.C on Sept. 8, 2013. Credit: AP / Chuck Burton

The NFL Wednesday suspended Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy without pay for the first 10 games of the 2015 season because of his domestic violence incident involving his then-girlfriend in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hardy is expected to appeal the decision. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Hardy after a two-month investigation by the league found sufficient evidence that Hardy's conduct violated the league's personal conduct policy.

Hardy was found guilty last July of assaulting Nicole Holder and threatening to kill her. He appealed the verdict, and the case was dismissed in February.

"The NFL's investigation concluded that Hardy violated the personal conduct policy by using physical force against Nicole Holder in at least four instances," the NFL said in a statement.

Goodell wrote in his decision that the "the net effect of these acts was that Ms. Holder was severely traumatized and sustained a range of injuries, including bruises and scratches on her neck, shoulders, upper chest, back, arms and feet. The use of physical force under the circumstances present here, against a woman substantially smaller than you and in the presence of powerful, military-style assault weapons, constitutes a significant act of violence in violation of the personal conduct policy."

The NFL had attempted to speak with Holder, but she declined. Goodell said he was uncertain if Holder's unwillingness to talk was "the result of her entering into a civil settlement with Hardy or other factors."

Hardy is expected to ask for an independent arbitrator to hear the case. It will be up to Goodell to appoint an arbitrator if he chooses not to hear the appeal.

Goodell appointed an independent arbitrator to hear an appeal by former Ravens running back Ray Rice, whose suspension ultimately was lifted. Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a video surfaced last September showing him knocking out his then-fiancee in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.

The Cowboys signed Hardy to a one-year, $11.3-million deal, but more than $9 million in salary is tied to appearing in games.

Cowboys officials expressed the belief that Hardy would not face a long suspension, but that proved not to be the case. Coach Jason Garrett said at last month's NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix that the team had performed extensive background checks on Hardy and was satisfied he would steer clear of further issues related to domestic violence.

Hardy played only one game for the Panthers last season before being placed on the commissioner's exempt list because of the domestic violence incident. He was paid his full salary.

Hardy's suspension will begin Sept. 5, the day of final roster cuts. He may participate in all preseason activities and games, the offseason workout program, organized team activities, minicamps and training camp.

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