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Pitt tops SI list of top 25 teams with criminal charges

According to Sports Illustrated, four football players at the University of Pittsburgh were arrested for separate crimes from July to September 2010. These players were accused of committing crimes, including aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a vehicle, driving under the influence and harassment. While some of these charges were later reduced, they resulted in the dismissal of at least one member of Pittsburgh's football team. While the University of Pittsburgh football team has had some high-profile incidents, it is not alone.

A six-month investigation conducted by Sports Illustrated and CBS News ran criminal background checks on the 2,837 players on the 2010 pre-season top 25 teams. It discovered that 277 criminal incidents had occurred involving college football players, with the University of Pittsburgh having the most at 22.

According to the study, almost 40 percent of those incidents were considered serious, including aggravated assault, assault and battery, domestic violence, sexual offenses and drug crimes.

Drug and alcohol offenses made up more than 100 of the player-related incidents. These offenses included driving under the influence and drug possession.

Almost 60 percent of the players involved in the 277 incidents were found guilty of the charges against them. The study did not include any players who were expelled as a result of a criminal charge prior to September 1.

Some commentators have expressed the view that people with criminal records should not be permitted to participate in NCAA sports. However, it is worth noting many of these young athletes have had juvenile convictions and juvenile convictions should not operate as a life-long punishment. Banning players from participation because of a run-in with the law would unfairly harm young people who have been wrongly accused of a crime as well as people who have been convicted of crimes and served their sentences.

Source: Sports Illustrated, "College Football and Crime," Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, 3/2/2011

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