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USC probes theft from stadium by players


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South Carolina not Southern Cal. :P

USC probes theft from stadium by players

Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004 - 10:37 pm

By Rick Scoppe and Tim Smith


COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina is investigating the theft of $18,000 worth of equipment from Williams-Brice Stadium by football players after being told they wouldn't be going to a bowl game because of the fight during their game with Clemson University.

Herbert Adams, chairman of USC's board of trustees, said university President Andrew Sorensen briefed him Tuesday about the thefts "having to do with some players."

Adams said Sorensen told him the players "supposedly were upset ... and therefore did this, and they were notified ... and returned whatever was taken."

USC Police Chief Ernie Ellis declined to prosecute those responsible, said USC spokesman Russ McKinney, after it was determined that all of the equipment was returned.

Ellis couldn't be reached to comment or to address how many other students are prosecuted for theft on campus.

McKinney said it isn't unusual for students who return stolen items not to be prosecuted.

He said "everything's on the table" in the investigation, which includes reviewing a videotape of the incident caught on a video machine at the stadium. McKinney said he didn't know what the tape showed.

It was unclear late Wednesday how many players were involved.

Sorensen instigated the investigation, which is being spearheaded by school attorney Terry Parham and Rick Kelly, USC's vice president and chief financial officer.

McKinney said Sorensen hoped the investigation would be finished "in the next couple days."

"I can tell you President Sorensen is very concerned with this incident," McKinney said. "He is doing a full, comprehensive review of it, all aspects of it. He will do so until he feels he has a clear understanding of all of those aspects."

The theft occurred after athletic director Mike McGee told the players Nov. 22 that the Gamecocks weren't going to go to a bowl because of their brawl in their game against Clemson two days earlier.

Among the items stolen were three laptop computers, two projectors and a dozen photographs "taken off the walls in the locker room area," according to the campus police report filed by USC football video coordinator Joe Lisle.

McKinney said USC officials have heard helmets and jerseys also were taken.

"Because there's questions like that out there, the president feels they all need to be addressed," McKinney said.

He said the results of the investigation could range from no further action to players being kicked off the team.

"I'm reluctant to speculate," he said, "but everything's on the table. The president's review will go where it takes him."

At the very least, McKinney said, those involved almost certainly would face possible university discipline, ranging from a letter of reprimand to expulsion.

"If it ends where it is right now, is student disciplinary procedure a likelihood?" McKinney said. "I would say that's a strong possibility."

McKinney said it isn't out of the ordinary for items to be stolen from the stadium "or anywhere on campus, unfortunately. They're basically public buildings with high volume traffic at different times of the day.

"Larceny is the No. 1 crime committed on this campus."


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As terrible as the fight at the Clemson game was, I was willing to consider forgiving those caught up "in the heat of the moment" during the brawl if they showed proper contrition for their mistake. Instead, they just demonstrate again that they're criminals at heart and have no respect for the USC program.

I'd say anyone guilty of both the brawl and the thefts should be expelled even if they escape criminal charges by returning the stolen property.

Good luck, Steve Spurrier. Looks like you have some culling to do.

Sorry for the lousy final blemish on your otherwise illustrious career, Lou Holtz.

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