By TOM WITOSKY
Iowa athletic officials acknowledged Wednesday that 18 members of last season’s football team have criminal records, but pointed out that all charges were misdemeanors, most were alcohol-related and they dated back to 2007.
Officials issued a statement in response to an investigative project, promoted by Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, that measured the number of players with criminal histories on the 25 teams ranked by SI before the start of last season.
Iowa was listed as second-highest, tied with Arkansas, in terms of number of players with criminal records. Pittsburgh ranked first with 22.
Iowa officials pointed out that 15 of the 18 players were charged with alcohol-related infractions, particularly underage consumption. In addition, two athletes were charged with possession of marijuana and one athlete was charged with misdemeanor assault and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct — a simple misdemeanor.
Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said in the statement that his program would continue to deal firmly with athletes who violate the rules.
“For 12 years we have dealt promptly, firmly, consistently and within the student-athlete code of conduct when we have incidents involving members of our football program,” Ferentz said. “My staff and I will continue to work to ensure our student-athletes are successful as a student, as an athlete, and as a citizen of the Iowa City community.”
Gary Barta, Iowa athletic director, said the athletic department will continue to “work as hard as we can” to improve the behavior of Iowa athletes and enforce the school’s conduct policy, which includes dismissal from teams for serious legal violations or too many violations.
“We will continue to work as hard as we can to make sure that the young people we bring to campus understand what our expectations are, and if they meet them fine, but if they don’t they are subject to disciplinary action,” Barta said.
The SI/CBS Sports report outlined that 7 percent of athletes on the 25 preseason rosters — or 204 of 2,837 players — “had been in trouble with the law either before or after entering college.”
Of the 277 incidents uncovered, according to the report, 40 percent involved serious offenses — with more than 105 drug and alcohol situations.
Iowa has dealt with a string of public relations issues in recent months, including the workout-related hospitalization of 13 players and two drug-related dismissals of star players.
Asked if the university had been treated unfairly by the report, Barta said, “We are being lumped in and there is no differentiation between a misdemeanor or something more serious on the felony level.”
Barta pointed out that most of Iowa’s players with police records have remained with the team or have graduated — and at least two others were dismissed.
Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and running back Adam Robinson were kicked off the team after each had been accused of possession of a controlled substance. Each pleaded guilty to the charges, but received deferred judgments.
Barta said the athletic department expects athletes to represent the university well, but also acknowledged that mistakes are made.
“We know young people are going to make mistakes,” Barta said.
“We need to limit the level and scope of those mistakes, and make sure they understand the consequences.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football