Students react to football related arrests

By Gretchen Andersen

Pitt students agreed: This was not a banner week for Pitt’s football program.

Two months… Pitt students agreed: This was not a banner week for Pitt’s football program.

Two months after the end of a season that saw the arrest of four football players and a slew of coaching changes, Sports Illustrated and CBS News released a report that said Pitt has more players with criminal records than any other 2010 preseason Top 25 football team.

Students’ reactions varied slightly based upon whether they had read the report or heard that a former football player, Fernando Diaz, had been arrested over the weekend.

But all hope Diaz’s was the last arrest for the Pitt football team and its alumni. They’re sick of the bad press.

Sophomore Sara Dugan, who didn’t read the Sports Illustrated/CBS News article, said that she felt like Pitt wasn’t doing enough to rein in its players.

“I feel like we don’t have a leash on our players at all,” Dugan said. “As an institution, we are like a family, and it looks bad on us.”

She hopes Todd Graham, who became head coach in January, will be strict with his players because “it’s getting out of hand.”

Alexa Campbell, a sophomore and player on the Pitt volleyball team, said the fifth arrest was disappointing and not a good representation of Pitt.

“As athletes, we are going to be under the microscope,” Campbell said. “It’s sad Pitt could get a bad representation from this, because it’s a great University and has great programs.”

Diaz, who left the team in August for personal reasons, was accused of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, underage drinking, public drunkenness and obstruction of highways. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Sophomore David Dameron chose to look on the bright side of the issue, and particularly the Sports Illustrated/CBS News report.

“We beat Penn State,” he joked, though he said he was aware of how serious the situtation is for Pitt and its reputation..

Penn State had 16 players with police records — six less than Pitt.

Chris Tully, a senior who also read the report, said the Pitt football program should maybe do formal background checks. The Athletic Department currently requires its football coaches to ask questions about recruits, but doesn’t do a formal criminal background check.

Tully also critiqued the Sports Illustrated/CBS News report, saying it wasn’t as thorough as it could have been.

“I think they could have covered a lot more schools,” Tully said. “It was weird that they focused on Pitt and then had other schools as a stat.”

May said he’ll still root for the Panthers in the fall, but wishes the football team had a better code of ethics.

“This didn’t just happen once,” May said of football players being arrested. “It happened too many times.”