Pitt is it?

A huge huge hit to the reputation of the University of Pittsburgh’s football program this morning as Sports Illustrated has unleashed an incredible report after a six-month investigation into crime rates among the nation’s college football teams, and found Pitt leading the pack by a nice comfy margin.

A total of 22 Pitt football players have police records and in the span of 60 days, four of them were arrested for quite violent altercations.

1. Senior Jabaal Sheard allegedly threw a man through the glass door of an art gallery and punched the victim in the face as he lay on his back, bleeding. He was reinstated to the team and Wannstedt defended him because he was just aiding another player and breaking up a fight.

Which is funny because I thought when people broke up a fight they stood between the fighting parties with their arms holding them apart and said, “Whoa whoa whoa. Break it up!”

I didn’t realize you were supposed to jump one of them and beat them senseless.

I can put a check mark next to “learn something new” on this day’s To Do List.

2. Driving while drunk, freshman Jason Douglas hit a male pedestrian “whom police found lying in the street, bleeding from open wounds to his head and throat. As Douglas was handcuffed he said: ‘Hey I play for Pitt football … please don’t arrest me.'”

LOL. Good one.

You almost killed a guy while driving drunk and you think because you are a redshirt at Pitt, they’ll be all, “I believe the children are our future and this kid has a future and let’s just let him off with a warning so’s we don’t mess with his future. Also, teach him well and let him lead the way.”

3. Sophomore Keith Coleman was charged with beating up one man and body slamming another who attempted to intervene.

4. Then freshman Jeffrey Knox allegedly beat and choked a woman, who police found crying and vomiting, and punched the women that came to her defense.

“Knox … open handed slapped Turner in the head with such force that she was thrown to the ground,” the police report states. “Knox then jumped on her, grabbed her by the throat, picked her up by her throat and slammed her head into the wall. He held her against the wall, continuing to choke her.”

“The charges are garbage,” Knox’s attorney, Martin Scoratow, told SI. “They don’t reflect the incident. There was something between the two of them. But it was like a teenage spat.”

Wow. Were it my daughter, I doubt my husband would look at it as a “teenage spat” and more as a “legal grounds for murder.”

What’s possibly the saddest part is that Pitt then hired a new coach, Mike Haywood, who held a press conference that he would have no tolerance for such behavior, and then was almost immediately let go after he was charged with domestic violence.

Of course, some of these charges are still waiting to be proved, but with 22 players with police records, some quite violent, you have to believe there’s a real problem here and you have to wonder if it’s Pitt’s recruiting practices that are to blame for so many problem-players wearing the uniform, or if it’s the culture of Pitt football that these kids are living in once they become part of the team that’s turning them into quasi-violent impulsive men with misguided senses of entitlement.

Either way, Pitt, fix that shit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put a checkmark next to “work Whitney Houston lyrics into a post.”



  1. Dan
    March 2, 2011 1:52 pm

    Hoping the new coach fixes this. Didn’t think Wanny was one to hire guys without character. I wonder where the basketball team ranks?

  2. Ginny's Dad
    March 2, 2011 1:56 pm

    Having graduated from Pitt a long time ago, it is a bit disconcerting to learn the sad state of Pitt football. A felony should result in permanent expulsion and a misdemeanor should result in a suspension for several games. If I had done some of those things, my company would have fired me and my church would have revoked my ministerial credentials – and rightfully so.

  3. Pete
    March 2, 2011 2:19 pm

    Being a huge Pitt fan and Alum, this report saddened me when I read it this morning. It probably contributed to Dave’s being let go at the end of the season. That being said while most of the dirtbags on the list cannot be stood up for, the one incident in Sheard’s life should be balanced with the one incident where when he was 11 he pulled an unconscious elderly woman from a burning building. He (for one) is not a bad kid. He let himself be goaded into a fight with a guys about his size, and that was stupid, but he’s not a bad kid.

  4. CrashJK
    March 2, 2011 2:39 pm

    I say JOEPA …you say TERNO !
    I say BLUE…you say WHITE !
    I say NITTANY….you say LIONS !

    nuff said….oh,

    Let’s Go PENS (now with added Kovy)

  5. Mandy
    March 2, 2011 2:46 pm

    Be careful not to fall off that pedastal, CrashJk. Your team is tied for 4th. ;)

  6. empirechick
    March 2, 2011 2:58 pm

    @Matt: Todd Graham should thank this guy – it will be easy to make him the example and kick him off the team (backup guards don’t win games), and the timing will be perfect from a PR standpoint.

  7. Dan (Not Onorato)
    March 2, 2011 3:02 pm

    Yeah crash…Pitt only beat PennState by 6 or something like that…

  8. PittStudent
    March 2, 2011 3:17 pm

    …Pitt IS trying to fix this. I honestly don’t think they would have fired Wannstedt had he just had a mediocre season. This had a lot to do with it.

    And Penn State sucks.

  9. Sooska
    March 2, 2011 4:04 pm

    @CrashJK – you guys were right behind Pitt, so yeah. cheer. nice going.

    Heard the new Pitt coach on the radio this afternoon doing his Southern-good-ole-boy-I’ll-charm-the-pants-off-ya-even-if-I-only-sound-like-J-Majors routine. Then I heard one of his players was tazed 4 times over the weekend while being drunk in Oakland in the street. WINNING to quote Charlie Sheen.

    as a Pitt alum I am disgusted.

  10. Kathy
    March 2, 2011 4:58 pm

    Or maybe it is the documented fact that football player’s brains are all jacked up. And now, with harder hitting of receivers when quarterbacks throw in “narrow windows” their minds are getting f***ed up at younger and younger ages. There are quite a few studies looking at violence and brain damage.

    AND, I’ll just say for the record. I’m not making excuses for them – drunk drive, punch someone, you have to take the consequences. I’m just saying it may not be Pitt that is the problem. A different six months may show it’s Oklahoma. And, to wave my limited probability and stats flag, was it standardized for size of programs and other factors such as location of college? Because, you know you can get in more trouble in an urban setting than in podunk Iowa. I will agree that Pitt needs to take some strong action against offenders and ensure that they know the behavior isn’t tolerated.

  11. JB
    March 2, 2011 5:16 pm

    @ Sooska

    This kid from the other night was not a Pitt football player. He is a former Pitt player who was trying to get back on the team, and the University confirmed he will have no chance now. Obviously they are working to fix the problem.

  12. Shibori
    March 2, 2011 6:23 pm

    As a Pitt alum, I can’t say I’m surprised. Spend any amount of time on campus and you’ll see that sports are clearly more of a priority than education. And these assholes are treated like rockstars around the ‘burgh- I waitressed at the Damon’s on the Waterfront back when it first opened, and quit after getting stiffed on tips multiple times when the manager comped checks for groups of players to get them to hang around there more (which I understand is an NCAA violation)- and it was very clear that this wasn’t the only place in town that did showered them with freebies- they expected it.

  13. CC
    March 2, 2011 6:24 pm

    I am not making excuses and this issue needs to be addressed by Graham but the period they examined seems to be a very narrow window. I think if they had expanded it a couple of years rather than a 60 day window if may have been more representative. Pitt may have still finished first but it would have been more meaningful. You know there are lies, damn lies and statistics. You can make the statsitics say anything.

  14. bucdaddy
    March 2, 2011 7:27 pm


    Oklahoma says it background-checks its players, though I have to ask: How can you background check 18-year-olds? Aren’t juvvy records supposed to be sealed? Or are all the Pitt accusations just since these 22 guys turned 18?

    Jebus, think THAT one through for a minute.

  15. Matthew
    March 2, 2011 7:53 pm

    If any of these allegations are/turned out to be true, these players should be thrown in jail as long as possible. HOWEVER, everyone needs to keep in mind that accusations do not necessarily equal guilt. I abhor violence of any kind, I just don’t wish to see innocent people jailed or demonized.

  16. unsatisfied
    March 2, 2011 9:23 pm

    @matthew — somehow…not sure how)….but, somehow, I made it through 4 years at the university of pittsburgh and was never once accused of violence.

    maybe of wearing the same pairs of socks, underwear and warm-up pants for 20 days straight.

    but, not violence.

  17. PittPygmy
    March 2, 2011 9:53 pm

    CC, the study was not done over 60 days. Ginny just pointed out that last summer, 4 incidents happened within a 60-day period. The study looked at all members of the program and whether they had police records, overall.

    bucdaddy, the study says they didn’t have access to the juvenile records of 80% of players in the study, so most of what they got was from players’ college years only, sadly enough.

  18. Not Surprised
    March 2, 2011 9:56 pm

    A few years ago, a former Pitt player’s girlfriend wouldn’t go near our (very friendly) pitbull terrier. Her reason was that “all the players have those dogs for fighting, and they’re mean.” Violence, beating women, dog fighting, nearly killing people while drunk driving….they’re just priming for careers in the NFL, right?

  19. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    March 2, 2011 10:47 pm

    this is prevalent all over NCAA division 1 (or whatever they call themselves now) sports. Also, juvenile records are sealed so if you were to look at any major NCAA Div 1 program and the records of many of their recruiting practices, what would be discovered would make your skin crawl if those incidents were able to be released. I only say this because of a previous position worked many years back involved making the determination what could be released employers/colleges and what couldn’t. In the jurisdiction in which I worked, you couldn’t let the inquirer know what the charge was for a juvenile, but you could relay that there was a record hit.

  20. empirechick
    March 2, 2011 11:01 pm

    Shibori is right – star athletes in general, and football players in particular, think they are special. Probably because they are treated that way from the time they are young. As a society, we value sports and entertainment above all else, and it doesn’t take kids long to figure that out.

    Just look back at the arrest records and see what these guys had to say to the cops – an awful lot of their statements were something like “I play football for Pitt…”, as thought that should make a difference. Except that, sadly, it does.

  21. Max
    March 2, 2011 11:14 pm

    @Ex-Pat Pttsburgh Girl-

    I’m more than a little troubled by your vague story of revealing an “inquiry” into somebody’s history
    as actually BECOMING part of their history.

    Kind of like “number of hits on credit score” actually affecting credit score.

    What govt orginanization was this and have you or they actually read the 4th Amendment?

    Just askin.

  22. Carol P
    March 2, 2011 11:35 pm

    I, in no way, condone what’s shown in the study. BUT- the reality is that many of these kids aren’t coming from the “Ward and June Cleaver” standard we’d love all kids to enjoy. I don’t think we should have a program full of felons, but I also don’t think that if a kid has a juvenile, non-violent record he should be unable to get a shot. The stats aren’t pretty, but I don’t think Pitt is any worse than most programs.

  23. Max
    March 3, 2011 12:06 am

    Drinikng 101-

    Cops win!

    Any questions?

  24. Butcher's Dog
    March 3, 2011 10:21 am

    @bucdaddy: Last night on the CBS Evening News (which went in with SI on this investigation) they said juvenile records are open on a state-by-state basis. They cited Florida, for instance, where anyone can get the records of anyone from any age for a $25 fee. Something like 18% of the incidents cited included juvey records.

  25. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    March 3, 2011 10:37 am

    @Max — all the checks done during my employment were done with the express written permission of the individual who was the subject of the background check. As far as I am aware, every state has a legal, statutory mechanism for conducting crimiminal history records. This includes juvenile records. What is different with a hit of a record that is attributed to a juvenile proceeding, is that the information as to the specific charge is usually — but not always — not included. An individual’s criminal history record includes more than simply conviction. Arrest, disposition, plea information, etc… are all included and the level of release is determined by the law of the jurisdiction. Some fields require criminal history background and FBI fingerprint background checks – e.g., school employees, bus drivers, law enforcement, etc… A lawful inquiry into the criminal history record of an individual does not because part of the record, and I do not believe I stated that I did. A person’s juvenile record is part of that individual’s criminal history record.

  26. CC
    March 3, 2011 10:59 am

    Pittpygmy – I stand corrected, the article specifically mentioned four particular incidents over a 60 day period at Pitt this summer.

    However, I am still suspect as the sample was of 25 of the 120 Division I teams. And then there were 277 incidents with 204 players. So, I guess, some players had multiple offenses. Of those, about 150 were serious offenses as defined by SI and only about 60% paid a fine or where guilty. So if you have a 22 year old college senior who was underage drinking at his senior high school prom and paid a fine he is in this guilty category.

    I am not saying that these 204 players should not be dismissed or should never have been on a College campus to begin with. And I would agree there is a problem wiht College atheletics particularly the money generating sports but this article may just be a little skewed and sensationalized.

  27. Scott
    March 3, 2011 11:27 am

    The other thing to keep in mind is that this usually does not include all of the other incidents on campus that are not reported or are covered up by campus police, administration, and influence of the coaches. I attended another local university with a VERY well known coach who would intimidate the bejesus out of administration when one of their players got in trouble on campus. So despite many incidents with the same players for drunkenness, fighting, putting campus police in the hospital, beating girl friends, drug possession, and all sorts of other things these “students” were still at the school and still hitting the gridiron weekly.

    Not saying by any means that all college athletes are this way and many of them are VERY outstanding students and citizens. But I think that even these reports are way way way off the mark when it comes to the actual number of incidents.

  28. John Franco
    March 3, 2011 11:45 am

    Great quote from the article:

    A man who said he was on the team with Mr. Diaz told him to “shut his mouth” and accept the citation for being publicly drunk, cautioning him that former Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt was not there any more and new coach Todd Graham would make an example of him.

    If true, maybe Wanny wasn’t the good guy we thought he was.

  29. JennyMoon
    March 3, 2011 11:55 am

    Sooska – quoting Charlie Sheen = Hilarious! Loved it.

  30. bucdaddy
    March 3, 2011 11:56 am

    Butcher’s Dog,

    Thanks for the clarification. The story I read said Oklahoma and TCU DO background-check the athletes, and I was wondering how they could do that with 18-year-old recruits.

    I suppose there’s a legitimate interest in doing stories like this (felons on the football team, what a shock), though I’d have to say that if young men are going to be criminals, I’d rather they have some structure where we know exactly where they are for large stretches of time (practice, games) and exactly who’s supposed to be supervising them (tutors, coaches, support staff). In short, better on the football field than hanging out on my street corner, eyeing my car.

    It’s unfortunate, however, that such stories tend to overshadow the often exemplary academic and societal records of athletes on the less “important” teams — women’s basketball, gymnastics, track etc. — not to mention the 90 percent of football players who are genuinely good guys.

    Also, it tends to overshadow guys who got their stupids out of the way and then straightened themselves out. I’m thinking of three athletes in particular here at WVU — a football player and two basketball players — who got in some minor trouble a couple years ago but have apparently stayed clean since, and have played large roles in their teams’ success this year. Granted, none of their mischief rose to felony level.

    I can be a little sensitive on this because when I was in college lo these many years ago, I accidentally (plus stupidly) set fire to my dorm. Nothing ever happened to me, but some minor damage was done that I was never called to account for. And look how I turned out! (OK, don’t look TOO closely …)

  31. Dan (Not Onorato)
    March 3, 2011 12:07 pm

    1. Agreed, Ive broken up enough fights to know that I dont need to throw a guy through a window and contine to beat on him

    2. Should have tazed him for even saying something stupid like that…

    4. Real man ehh? Dead man walking in my opinion. And his lawyer deserves a kick in the donkey omelets for that remark

    @23 Carol P

    The kids in the program may not be coming from “Ward and June Cleaver” standards but that doesnt necessarily make it right.

  32. Anon
    March 3, 2011 1:27 pm

    Funny I havent seen this mentioned yet but it struck me as a first thought upon reading the article. Roid Rage. Granted I have zero interest in college football so I dont even know if it is possible for them to be on steroids or not with tox screenings and such but wouldnt erratic, extra violent behavior be a symptom of that kind of substance abuse?

  33. Jessica
    March 14, 2011 1:37 pm

    “Top 25 ranked pre-season” – only reason WVU didn’t beat Pitt out on this list. : )