Just this week, a study conducted by “Outside the Lines” questioned how often college athletes get prosecuted after being arrested for committing crimes.
The study investigated 10 Division I NCAA schools’ basketball and football players over a period spanning from 2009-2014 in regards to crimes committed while playing at their respective universities.
The schools included in the study were as follows: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.
After reading the study, I was blown away by the results. An alarming 80 athletes from the University of Florida committed over 100 crimes in the five-year span; in addition, they also had the most repeat offenders (25). Florida State had the second most players commit crimes (66), 70% of which were either dropped, overturned or not prosecuted.
Several of the programs mentioned— seven, to be exact— had at least 14% of all football and basketball players arrested while actively participating in regular and post-season games.
These numbers are absolutely ridiculous. How is it possible that so many college athletes are still allowed to play their sport(s) after committing crimes?
Well, it appears the answer is simple: legally speaking, a large percentage of them never even committed their crimes. Their charges weren’t even filed some of the time and dropped at other times.
Many of them did get prosecuted and nothing happened in relation to their roster status. Jameis Winston was arrested multiple times on charges of theft, rape, harassment, vandalism and various other offenses but later went on to win both the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship that same year.
The corruption that exists within numerous athletic departments and university and local police departments is incredible. What’s even worse is that two of the schools, Notre Dame and Michigan State, refused to provide many relevant records to the ESPN, which has resulted in a lawsuit. They wouldn’t even allow any further investigation, adding to pre-existing suspicion.
The study did not include Ole Miss, but we can recall many of our star players getting arrested at some point in recent years past while still at the university. Marshall Henderson was probably the most notable.
In an ideal world, all the students would be treated equally, but everyone comes to accept that athletes simply aren’t held to the same standards as everyone else. With this in mind, I would expect athletes to get special treatment in some areas of their college lives, such as academics, dorms, meal plans and scholarships; but, at the very least, they should be legally accountable for their actions.
Some athletes do little work at all while in college, commit a terrible crime, then go on to play professionally and make millions of dollars. That just isn’t right.
I love sports, both watching and playing. However, there is no excuse for some of the statistics that were revealed in this study. If anything, athletes should be held to a higher standard because of the influence that they hold in pop culture.
Instead, it seems like athletes can do anything they want and get away with it these days.
Mark Sandefur is a junior chemical engineering and public policy major from Madison, Mississippi.