SI.comPublished: March 2, 2011BY: Jeff Benedict
Today Sports Illustrated and CBS News unveiled the results of an unprecedented investigation into the backgrounds of college football players. More than a dozen reporters, writers, researchers, editors and producers worked on the project.
Over a six-month period we conducted criminal background checks on all 2,837 players whose names appeared on the rosters of SI's 2010 preseason Top 25 poll on Sept. 1. We turned up 204 players (7%) who had been charged with 277 incidents or crimes. Nearly 40 percent involved serious crime.
A project of this scope has never been undertaken. First, vital information was gathered on every player (date of birth, race, sex, hometown, etc.), a tedious process that entailed using everything from team media guides to players' individual Facebook pages and everything in between. Second, this information was furnished to clerks of courts, record keepers at police departments, prosecutors' offices and state criminal record repositories.
Sports IllustratedPublished: March 2, 2011By: Armen Keteyian & Jeff Benedict
The NCAA's annual convention in January featured sessions focusing on topics ranging from academic accountability to achieving gender equity. One subject the NCAA may soon be discussing is the recruiting of players with criminal records. When presented with the SI/CBS News findings and asked if schools should conduct criminal background checks on recruits, new NCAA president Mark Emmert was open to digging deeper. "I'd certainly welcome a good debate about what this data means and how we can best address it," said Emmert.
A few days earlier, at the American Football Coaches Association's annual convention, several top college coaches expressed curiosity and concern over the findings of the investigation. Many thought it would be a good step for conferences to mandate background checks. That would prevent any school from gaining a recruiting advantage by not requiring prospects to submit to the background checks.