Mizzou, Georgia Top List of SEC Student Athlete Arrests

2 years 10 months 3 weeks ago April 30, 2014 Apr 30, 2014 Wednesday, April 30 2014 Wednesday, April 30, 2014 3:20:00 PM CDT in Mizzou Xtra
By: Andrew Kauffman, KOMU 8 Reporter & Jake Lasofsky, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
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COLUMBIA - 12 University of Missouri athletes have been involved in a total of 16 arrests since the school joined the SEC. That puts Mizzou in a tie with the University of Georgia within the conference for the most athlete arrests.

Dorial Green-Beckham, Levi Copelin, Zach Price and Ka'ra Stewart were all arrested twice.

KOMU 8 News looked at the number of arrests reported by the media for each of the 14 SEC schools since July 2012. Some of the arrests involved multiple charges.

Missouri and Georgia each have 16 such arrests. They are followed by Texas A&M (15), Mississippi (10) and Alabama (10). South Carolina has the fewest athlete arrests with two.

In total, the SEC had 110 arrests. 84 involved football players. Four involved female athletes. 

KOMU 8 News looked at which sport at each school had the highest number of athlete arrests. In every case, football was it, although at the University of Arkansas, baseball tied for first. 

At four of the 14 SEC schools, the only athletes arrested came from the football team (Kentucky, LSU, Vanderbilt and South Carolina).

It should be noted, football programs have more players, on average, than other sports. Missouri's football team has 106 student athletes, second only to the track the field team with 116. Of the 110 total reported SEC arrests, one involved a track and field athlete. 

After the recent Black and Gold Game, football coach Gary Pinkel said: "We got great kids. It's unfortunate that one or two make mistakes and kind of drag everybody else down."

Seven athletes from the football program were involved in ten arrests in a nearly two year period. Eight of the arrests were marijuana-related. The University of Georgia's football program also had ten arrests.

Texas A&M has the most football athlete arrests with 14. Mississippi State and South Carolina are tied for the least, with two each.

The 110 total reported arrests led to 226 reported charges*. Missouri's 16 arrests resulted in 26 total charges. That puts the school third in this statistic, behind Georgia (36) and Vanderbilt (31).

KOMU 8 News categorized each charge based on 8 categories (drug possessions, DUI/DWI, other traffic violations, burglary/theft, violent crimes**, disturbing the peace/disorderly conduct, gun-related charges, and other***)

Missouri had the highest number of drug possession charges (ten). The school with the next highest number of drug possessions charges was Texas A&M with six.

Missouri represents more than one third of the total drug possession charges in the SEC (26). MU is also fourth in violent crimes charges (7). Vanderbilt had the highest number of violent crime charges (29), all stemming from the same incident. ABC News reported four Vanderbilt football players were arrested and charged with the rape of an unconscious 21-year-old victim in a dorm room in June of 2013. A fifth Vanderbilt football player was arrested later that summer for attempting to cover-up the case. 

The largest number of charges, 68, fell under the category of violent crimes.

Some noteable non-Missouri arrests include:

Devonta Pollard (Alabama - Basketball) - Conspiracy to commit kidnapping

Zachary Burgess (Auburn - Lacrosse) - Theft of a motor vehicle, nine counts of hit and run and simple kidnapping

Regina George (Arkansas - Track and Field) - Public Intoxication, obstructing governmental operations, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest      

Thomas Altimont (Arkansas - Baseball) - Kidnapping and third degree domestic battery

Marshall Morgan (Georgia - Football) - Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol and towing a skier without an observer on a personal watercraft

Antonio Morrison (Florida - Football) - Interfering with a police animal and resisting arrest without violence

Brandon Vandenburg (Vanderbilt - Football) - five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated battery, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography

KOMU 8 News examined the disciplinary action after each arrest, and found they fall into three categories: dismissal from the team, suspension or "internal action" (in which the punishment was not disclosed to the public).

Missouri has suspended athletes 11 times, which is second in the SEC to Texas A&M (12).

The 11 Missouri suspensions stem from ten different players. Dorial Green-Beckham was the only athlete suspended twice, after each of his two arrests.

He was eventually dismissed after a burglary incident that did not result in an arrest. For that reason, his dismissal is not included in the following statistics.

Vanderbilt has dismissed the most athletes - five - all of which were football players involved in the sexual assault incident detailed above.

MU spokesman Chad Moller said in an email, "If you're going by media accounts, then there's no question in my mind that we would rank at or near the top in terms of reported incidents because our media is much more aggressive with this, compared to most any school in the nation."

An MU police spokesman said the arrests reported by the media may not present the full picture.

"I'm saying with your numbers there's no possible way that that's 100 percent accurate because there is not a law, there is not a statute that anyone has to report to that," Captain Brian Weimer said.

MU Athletic Director Mike Alden said even the athletic department may not know when an athlete is arrested.

"You're always concerned about things like that, you would hope that that wouldn't be the case," Alden said, speaking after Green-Beckham's dismissal.

KOMU 8 News looked into the arrest processes at each of the 14 SEC schools and found none of the police departments at any of the universities note if the suspect is an athlete.

Some of the police departments, like MUPD, do track whether or not it's a student, but only if the suspect identified them self as such.

"We don't go back and search their name against the database," Weimer said.

The Columbia Police Department doesn't track MU student arrests at all.

"It doesn't really matter if they're a student or an athlete," Sergeant Joe Bernhard said.

But MUPD said it does try to communicate with Mizzou about athlete arrests.

Weimer said, "If we're aware that they're an athlete after everything is processed, yes we'll let (MU) know."

If the arrest is made in another jurisdiction, the MUPD may not know.

"If I'm not aware of it, how would I know. How would I know if you were arrested in Illinois? I would not know that," Weimer said.

MU fans at the Black and Gold game were split on whether it is important for the public to know when a student athlete is arrested.

Columbia resident Scott Joffe said, "Oh absolutely, I mean people should know what's going on. Local people get right in the newspaper everyday. Everybody should know exactly who's doing what."

Chuck McPherson, of Washington, Mo., said, "I think the media blows a lot of it out of proportion sometimes. This day and age, with all of the social media and everything, they've got to report on everything going wrong, nothing about what the kids do right nowadays."

The arrests, suspensions and dismissals of University of Missouri athletes have drawn a lot of criticism to the athletic programs.

Speaking after Green-Beckham's dismissal, Alden said, "It's unacceptable to be able to see that type of behavior and something that I know that our coaches and our students are taking very seriously."

"The significant majority of our kids are doing amazing things, amazing things throughout this campus and throughout this community," Alden said. "And to be able to have the actions of a few individuals detract away from all of those great things, that's unfortunate and that should not take place."

In comments made after the Black and Gold Game, Pinkel said, "When players make really very bad decisions, poor mistakes, they should be accountable, and that shouldn't happen."

Since basketball forward Zach Price was arrested twice on April 3, there have not been any additional Mizzou athlete arrests.

Football player Evan Boehm said, "Now it's time to put that good name back into the Missouri football team and the Missouri athletic department."

Below is a time line of Missouri athlete arrests since July 1, 2012, when MU joined the Southeastern Conference: 

*The charges mentioned were at the time of arrest and may have eventually been dropped.

**Violent Crimes - simple assault, assault, domestic assault, property damage, criminal mischief, battery, aggravated sexual battery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, hit-and-run

***Other - resisting arrest by fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident, public intoxication, underage consumption of alcohol, underage possession of alcohol, buying alcohol for minors, criminal impersonation, towing a skier without an observer onboard, tampering with evidence, unlawful photography, failure to comply with a police officer, interfering with police by harassing a police animal, failure to appear in court, obstructing governmental operations, violation of a noise ordinance

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