Report: Eight percent of scholarship players have criminal records


For those of you who regularly check out CFT’s police blotter, it comes as no surprise that quite a few college football players have a problem with “coloring inside the legal lines”.

Thus, the results of an News investigation into the criminal backgrounds of players on two dozen or so football programs should come as no surprise, either: some football players have — you might want to sit down for this one — a checkered past.

The joint probe looked into the backgrounds of 2,837 players who made up the rosters of’s 2010 preseason Top 25 poll and found that seven percent have police records, with nearly 40 percent of those arrests being classified as serious — assault and battery (25 cases), domestic violence (6), sex offenses (3), aggravated assault (4) and robbery (4).  If only scholarship players are taken into account, the number jumps to 8.1 percent.

“[It is] a set of facts that obviously should concern all of us,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Seven percent, that’s way too high. I think two percent is too high. You certainly don’t want a large number of people with criminal backgrounds involved in activities that represent the NCAA.”

Of the 25 programs studied, six of them had double-digit players with criminal pasts.  Far and away the “leader” was Pittsburgh, whose roster is littered with 22 players carrying a police record from incidents that happened either prior to coming to or while on campus.  Somewhat surprisingly, Boise State had 16 players who have been arrested and charged at some point in their lives.

Iowa and Arkansas had 18 apiece, Penn State had 16 and Virginia Tech 13.

TCU was the only preseason Top 25 school that did not have a single player with an arrest record, while Stanford had just one.

The report went on to state that only two schools — TCU and Oklahoma — perform any type of criminal background check on potential recruits.  UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel — whose program wasn’t included in the investigation — is all in favor of conferences mandating their members perform criminal background checks of potential student-athletes.

“I think that would be the way to do it,” Neuheisel said. “That protects the individual institutions. It also serves as a deterrent for young people to stay on the straight and narrow. I think it’s a great idea.”

Obviously, seven percent is a significant number but it also begs a couple of questions.  How does that number compare to other men’s sports such as basketball, baseball and track & field?  Also, how does that number compare to the student body in general/

Unfortunately, the report does not answer those questions, so we’re left with a stand-alone number that screams “OMG COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S GOING TO HELL!!!” when it could merely be just a little north or south of the general population.