A six-month joint investigation by Sports Illustrated (SI) and CBS News that ran criminal background checks on nearly 3,000 players from the Top 25 ranked college football teams revealed that 7 percent of the players checked had criminal records, that only two of the schools performed background checks of their own, and that none of the schools checked juvenile records.

The SI/CBS News investigation ran background checks on 2,837 players – each player on the preseason rosters of Sports Illustrated’s Top 25 ranked college football teams of 2010 – by performing more than 7,000 individual record checks on names, dates of birth, and other information from players at courthouses and law enforcement agencies in 17 states, and also through several online databases that tracked criminal records.

The results of the SI/CBS News investigation also revealed that:

  • Seven percent of the 2,837 players that had background checks – 204 in all and 1 of every 14 – “had been in trouble with the law either before or after entering college” and been charged with or cited for a crime, some with multiple arrests.
  • Of the 277 criminal incidents uncovered in the background checks, nearly 40 percent involved violent offenses such as assault and battery, domestic violence, aggravated assault, robbery, and sex offenses.
  • There were over 100 drug and alcohol offenses revealed in the background checks, including Driving Under the Influence (DUI), drug possession, and intent to distribute drugs.
  • Players were guilty or paid some penalty in almost 60 percent of the 277 incidents in cases in which the outcome was known.
  • Only two of the 25 school in the investigation – TCU and Oklahoma – performed any type of regular criminal background searches on college football recruits, while none of the schools looked at juvenile records of college football recruits.
  • The University of Pittsburgh had more college football players with police records – 22 – than any other school in the investigation.
  • One of the Top 25 college football teams investigated, Texas Christian University (TCU), had no players with criminal records.

The number of players with criminal pasts uncovered by the SI/CBS News investigation seems to imply to some that college football coaches are willing to recruit players with questionable criminal pasts in order to win, and also that very little investigating is done by college coaches into the backgrounds of players before offering them scholarships.

College coaches provided numerous reasons to SI/CBS News for not checking into the backgrounds of players that included not knowing juvenile records were available in certain jurisdictions, trusting that background checks were not needed to uncover everything in a player’s past, and a heavy reliance on intelligence provided by the high school coaches of the players.

For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at https://www.esrcheck.com.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco, CA area with a mission to help both employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), please visit https://www.esrcheck.com or email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected].