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Staff Reports
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 6, 1998

Athletes plead guilty in football books scandal

From staff and wire reports

A University of Arizona football player and a former teammate pleaded guilty to stealing textbooks from an athletic department bin and reselling them.

Leland O. Gayles and Mikal E. Smith, both 21, also agreed Friday to pay a total of $3,000 restitution to the UA Associated Students Bookstore.

Prosecutors agreed to drop one fraud charge against each defendant in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Both were suspended from the university for one semester and from the football team last season.

When they are sentenced next month, they could be given probation or prison terms of up to two years by a judge who will decide whether to consider the crimes misdemeanors or felonies.

Smith, a starting safety as a sophomore who now resides in Tampa, Fla., said he hopes the judge won't deem his offense a felony since it would prevent him from joining the Marines. He is to be sentenced on May 1.

Gayles, a reserve cornerback during the 1996 season who rejoined the team this spring, will be sentenced May 21.

When the two men were arrested in June, more than 60 textbooks were found in Gayles' car. Investigators said they took advantage of their scholarship status under which athletes obtained books through the athletic department rather than the bookstore.

Police alleged the players stole books from book bins at the athletic department and also used stolen book vouchers to buy books and later sell them for cash.

The university has altered its books and voucher policies since the scandal. A UA-sponsored investigation by Tucson attorney Cary Sandman, which revealed that 12 scholarship athletes abused the athletic department's textbook distribution policies, led to a reprimand by the Pacific 10 Conference.

University officials have refused to release the names of the other athletes involved, claiming the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits them from doing so. University police have said they will not pursue criminal charges against the other athletes.

The UA's athlete book loan program was transferred to the Intercollegiate Athletics' Compliance Office this semester, and books will no longer be distributed or stored at McKale Center.

Students now get their books from an athletic department employee at the UA Associated Students Bookstore.

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