J.R. Redmond faked a marriage to stay eligible for football
There are good and bad reasons to get married, and at the very bottom of the scale there's J.R. Redmond's reason. On Aug. 25, Redmond, Arizona State's star senior tailback, wed Francine Arthur, a student at the school and part-time employee in the Sun Devils' athletic department. His goal: to protect his athletic eligibility.
Last week Redmond admitted to Arizona State associate athletic director Betsy Mosher and Pac-10 assistant commissioner Dan Coonan that he got married to hide illicit benefits he'd received from Arthur. She and Redmond agree that she gave him a cell phone in August, that he used it to ring up more than $400 in charges, for which she paid, and that they went to Las Vegas together in September, again on her dime. On almost everything else, however, husband and wife don't see eye to eye.
Redmond, 22, told investigators that his relationship with Arthur, 31, was platonic. He said she told him in August that the school was probing their relationship and that his accepting the cell phone from her could cost him his eligibility unless they got hitched. That night at the Wedding Chapel in Mesa, Ariz., Redmond married Arthur, who has two children of her own. He figured he could get an annulment after the football season. The newlyweds never lived together—Redmond resides with his father and a teammate in an off-campus apartment—and Redmond never told his friends or coaches about the marriage.
A potential NFL first-rounder, Redmond said he soon began to suspect that Arthur had conned him into marrying her, hoping to share his future earnings. Though he flew with her to Vegas, he said he made the trip to see relatives. He claimed that when he tried to pay for his ticket, Arthur refused his money, and that she also turned him down when he tried to pay his cell phone bill.
Arthur tells a different tale. She says that she and Redmond became romantically involved last April and that she never coerced him into marrying her. She calls the Vegas trip their honeymoon. "The purpose of the trip was love and romance," Arthur told SI. "He wanted to stay in a room with a hot tub. He'd never done anything in a hot tub before."
Cracks in the marriage began to show on Oct. 10, Arthur says, when she got a cell phone bill showing calls to a number she didn't recognize. She claims she dialed it and that the woman who answered said she was involved with Redmond. Arthur confronted her husband. "I told him he could have a divorce, a clean break," she says. "He said he needed to stay married until January."
The next day the Pac-10 informed Arizona State of an anonymous tip the NCAA had received claiming Redmond had gotten improper help with his school-work. The NCAA passed the tip to Coonan, who looked into the charge but couldn't corroborate it. On Oct. 21 the school was told that a tipster had called the NCAA with more allegations, this time including charges that Redmond had received improper financial benefits. Coonan and Mosher say they couldn't confirm these charges any more than they can verify Arthur's claims that she gave Redmond rent money and paid to get his car out of a tow lot.
Redmond filed for divorce on Oct. 22. Five days later Arthur received a protective order against her husband requiring that he stay at least 1,000 feet from her. She quit her job in the athletic department last Friday.
Redmond, who was suspended for last Saturday's 20-17 loss at Oregon, has been ordered to pay $652.29 in restitution—the money will go to charity—and do 20 hours of community service. He's eligible to play this week.