School calls thefts of radios, pillows poor decisions by 'good kids'
JACKSON, Miss. -- Athletic director Pete Boone said the 20 Mississippi football players who stole items from two hotels earlier this season are "good kids" who made poor decisions.
The thefts of radios and pillows ranging in price from $15 to $40 from hotels in Alabama and Tupelo, Miss., were announced Sunday. All 20 players have been placed on indefinite probation, but will play Friday against Mississippi State.
"I looked down the list and I don't remember seeing their names on absentees as far as classrooms or any other issues," Boone said during coach Ed Orgeron's regular Monday news conference. "So it did surprise me to see their names in this list."
Boone said because none have been in trouble before, he would not release their names. The players paid the school for the items and checks were issued to the hotels.
Orgeron said the thefts were "embarrassing."
"Usually, usually when we go to a hotel I get nothing but compliments on our team and how well-behaved we are, how professional we are," Orgeron said. "So it was unexpected and will not be put up with."
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the thefts and subsequent repayments do not violate the organization's rules because they do not qualify as improper benefits.
"We leave the responsibility to law enforcement and to the administration of the schools to make sure proper disciplinary action is taken," she said.
The school learned of the thefts when invoices with added costs arrived. The items were stolen the night before the home game against Arkansas and the road game at Auburn.
This is at least the fifth time Orgeron has taken disciplinary action against players this year. John Jerry and Corey Actis missed starts, Michael Hicks, Ashlee Palmer and Chris Strong were suspended a game and Greg Hardy missed two games after being suspended.
Boone and Orgeron said those suspensions were mostly for missing class and the players had been warned over a period of months before being suspended. They said the 20 placed on indefinite probation were not suspended because they were first-time offenders.
"The guys that were suspended before on our team have always been warned -- 'Hey, listen we don't like what you're doing here. If you continue, this is going to happen down the road,'" Orgeron said.
"When this situation happened, they're warned. They know this behavior is not going to be accepted and anything else that they do they will face severe penalties."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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