Coaches cite problems with arrest report 

March, 2, 2011

The volume of digging that Sports Illustrated and CBS News did for their report on the criminal records of every player on the rosters of the teams in SI's 2010 preseason top 25 rankings is simply staggering.

According to the story posted Wednesday on, the study found that about 7 percent of the 2,837 players -- 204 total -- "had been in trouble with the law either before or after entering college" (there is no distinction made in the report between what percentage of players had a criminal history before going to college, and what percentage of players got into trouble after arriving at school). How the numbers compare with those of the general student population at each school, or how they compare with American men ages 18 to 22 in general, isn't chronicled in the report.

Not surprisingly, this issue was one that was brought up in conversations I had with a half-dozen coaches and college administrators on Wednesday (some of these coaches' and administrators' schools were mentioned in the report, while others were not).

"There is one big problem with this -- there is no control factor to it," one Big Ten coach said Wednesday. "You could take a house full of 50 fraternity guys and 10 percent of that group may have criminal records with DUIs and assaults from getting into fights. We don't know. If college football is at 7 percent, we might be doing a hell of a job, especially if you factor in the socioeconomics of many of the high schools we're recruiting from. My guess is more than 7 percent of the males from many of those schools would be considered to have criminal backgrounds. Do we wish there was 0 percent? Of course. But they put this out there to shock everybody, but what are we comparing it to?"

Said a college administrator from an ACC school: "It looks like someone is trying to tear down football. You hear about graduation rates all the time. You see the NCAA do a study that says School A is graduating 66 percent of their players, that doesn't seem good. What they don't tell you is at School A the regular male student population grad rate is 55 percent."