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• Twenty-two players on the Pittsburgh roster had a criminal record—the highest number in the study and nearly three times the rate of the overall sample. Of the scholarship players, 20 (23.5%) had criminal records. In a two-month span last season, four Pitt players were arrested for violent crimes, including aggravated assault and vehicular assault while under the influence (box, page 37).
• Of the 318 athletes SI/CBS News investigated who are from Florida, one of the very few states that allows access to juvenile records, 22 were found to have been arrested at least once before they turned 18. If that rate were extrapolated to the entire pool of players in the study, it would suggest that approximately eight scholarship players per team had been arrested at least once before they arrived on a college campus.
• Race appeared not to be a major factor in the results. In the overall sample 48% of the players were black and 44.5% were white. Sixty percent of the players with a criminal history were black and 38% were white.
• Not a single player from Texas Christian, the Rose Bowl champion, was found to have been arrested, debunking the long-held belief that for a nontraditional power to succeed it must take on players with checkered pasts. Likewise, Stanford, the Orange Bowl champion, had just one player who'd been in legal trouble (a minor charge that was later dismissed).
NCAA president Mark Emmert, when presented with the study's findings, said, "[It is] a set of facts that obviously should concern all of us... . 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."
The number shouldn't be shocking given how little digging college coaches do into recruits' pasts before offering the players scholarships. Only two of the 25 schools in the SI/CBS News study, TCU and Oklahoma, perform any type of regular criminal background checks. Not one searches juvenile records.
That is the case even in Florida, a recruiting hotbed, where for $24 anyone can obtain a criminal-background record, one that includes many juvenile offenses, for anyone who has been arrested in that state. Despite the easy access, no school contacted by SI checks the records of the players it recruits from Florida, not even Miami, Florida State or Florida.
By failing to take this simple step, colleges can miss signs that a player might be high-risk. Take the case of Antwan Darling, who grew up in Miami and last fall was a freshman linebacker for Cincinnati. On March 22, 2010, 17-year-old Kimberly Lewis was home alone in Miami when she placed a frantic 911 call:
"He's at the back door ... he's trying to get in!"
Lewis was home sick from school when she heard two men trying to break into her family's house. Alone, she locked herself in a room and talked to a dispatcher on her cellphone.