Benson might not serve time at all

Updated: August 6, 2004, 8:53 PM ET
Associated Press

AUSTIN -- Texas senior running back Cedric Benson was sentenced to serve eight days in jail after pleading no contest Friday to misdemeanor criminal trespassing for an incident during the 2003 season.

But due to crowding at the jail and credit for good behavior, he will likely only spend a fraction of that time -- if any -- behind bars.

"We don't have beds available," said Travis County sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade.

Police said Benson forced his way into an apartment last October to search for a stolen television.

The charge was a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Travis County Judge Elizabeth Earle also ordered Benson to pay a $1,000 fine and up to $600 in restitution for the apartment's damaged door and court costs, said Benson's attorney, Brian Carney.

Benson, who was allowed to serve his jail time on weekends, will be with the Longhorns when the team reports to training camp on Monday.

Of the eight days he was ordered to serve in jail, four were subtracted for good behavior, Wade said.

Benson also was given credit for being in jail the day he was arrested and an additional day for checking in Friday and being released due to jail crowding.

If he checks in Saturday and there is a community service project available, he'll be credited for two days and finish his sentence. If there is not a community project, he can complete his time on Sunday, Wade said.

"He's not being given any preferential treatment," Wade said.

Benson should finish his jail term before the season opener Sept. 4 against North Texas. He served a one-game suspension after his arrest last season.

"I understand that I made a mistake and I'm taking responsibility for my actions in accepting my punishment," Benson said in a statement released by the school.

Carney said Benson accepted the jail time rather than drag out his case -- and potential publicity -- through a long probation period during the coming season.

Prosecutors offered Benson a conviction with probation for a year with community service, anger management counseling and similar fines.

"I had some options in how it was handled, but I think what I accepted will have the least effect on my teammates, the coaches and everyone at UT. I didn't want this to drag on through the season," Benson said. "Even though it's more difficult on me by taking care of it now, it's in the best interest of my team in the long run."

Coach Mack Brown said Benson's plea brings "closure to an issue we dealt with last fall with Cedric. I know he's glad to have this behind him so he can move on."

A likely Heisman Trophy contender this season, Benson has been one of the most prolific ball carriers in Texas history with 3,706 yards rushing and 45 touchdowns.

"All he wants to do is get this behind him and go play football and have a great senior year," Carney said.

"This is an unusually harsh course that was taken for a misdemeanor offense like this," Carney said. "I don't think it would have taken that course if he didn't play football."

Benson originally was accused of entering the apartment with three other men but Carney said no one else has been charged in the case.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press