An ESPN Outside the Lines report released on Sunday shed light on how student-athletes in college towns may be treated differently than normal citizens.
In the report that included investigations into 10 universities, The Florida Gators proved to have the most men’s basketball and football players named to criminal investigations during a six-year period from 2009-14.
Outside the Lines found that Florida had 80 football and men’s basketball players (24% of the combined rosters) cited for more than 100 crimes and noted that Florida had the most repeat offenders. It should be noted that data on all 10 teams was not obtained in the same way. Auburn police released records only in which an arrest was made, and state law grants “youthful offender” status to people ages 18 to 20, which “essentially seals such records for a first offense; therefore, it’s not possible to accurately determine repeat-offender status.
Additionally, ESPN has sued Notre Dame and Michigan State for documents that both institutions refused to reveal; both cases are pending appeal.
The television segment that aired on Sunday morning featured Chris Rainey, noting that the former Florida Gators running back had five run ins with law enforcement while in Gainesville. In the video (which you can view here), Rainey speaks about Gainesville attorney, and Florida Law graduate, Huntley Johnson, who frequently represents athletes in Gainesville
According to the report done by Paula Lavigne, 56 percent of cases involving a Florida Gators men’s basketball player or football player were either dropped or not prosecuted from 2009-14, something Gainesville police spokesperson Ben Tobias says is largely due to the quick representation athletes generally get from attorneys such as Johnson.
“Sometimes we joke that [Huntley Johnson's] got a better communication system than 911,” Tobias said in the Outside the Lines report.
“It’s the fault of the athletes, it’s the fault of the victims, it’s the fault of society, it’s the fault of the media, because everyone paints this picture and holds athletes up on a pedestal sometimes and we all are making them invincible,” Tobias continued in the OTL report. “The fans are making them invincible, and the victims themselves, they look up to them at the same time. So to think that they can be victimized by this person is sometimes a reach for them.”
Note: Outside the Lines released the criteria they used and the way they went about obtaining material and compiling their report that you can read here.