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USC football: Trojans had seven players with police records, report says

March 2, 2011 |  4:28 pm

Pitt-notre-dame_300 Sports Illustrated and CBS News rocked the college football world Wednesday with a report that followed a six-month investigation and included criminal background checks on players listed on the rosters of every team in the preseason top 25 in 2010.

The report says that 7% of the 2,837 players had criminal records and that nearly 40% of 277 incidents uncovered were for "serious" offenses.

´╗┐Pittsburgh topped the list with 22 players having been charged. Texas Christian was the only school with zero.

The report listed USC with seven players who had been charged. That is fewer than 10 schools, the same as three others -- Ohio State, Florida and Oregon -- and more than 11 others. No USC players were identified in the report.

Said the report: "The number of players with criminal histories turned up by the SI/CBS News investigation reinforces a pervasive assumption that college coaches are willing to recruit players with questionable pasts to win. More surprising, however, is just how little digging college coaches do into players' backgrounds before offering them a scholarship."

The report said only Oklahoma and TCU conduct regular criminal background searches on recruits.

"Our coaches use a variety of methods to look into a recruit's background, including those mentioned in the story," USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said in a statement. "On a case-by-case basis, if we feel it necessary, we'll do a formalized background check.

"The story does raise some good issues.  We need to discuss internally if doing formal background checks becomes something that is factored in for the future here.  It is certainly worth exploring."

 --Gary Klein

Photo: Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist eludes Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard (97) on a 10-yard touchdown run last October. Sheard is one of 22 Pitt football players with a criminal record. Credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press