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UA football team players under theft investigation

By Audrey DeAnda and Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
August 23, 1999

A number of UA football team members are being investigated for reportedly stealing money from a CatCard office employee, university police confirmed Friday.

The temporary CatCard employee, who requested that his name be withheld, said he was in the Memorial Student Union Thursday afternoon demonstrating how to use a cash-to-card machine when he felt money being taken from his hand.

The employee said he saw the group of men in his peripheral vision and told them to stop taking the money. The students had previously identified themselves as University of Arizona football players.

"One of the players said something to the effect of 'come on, give us a couple of bucks; we bring millions to the university,'" the employee said.

The employee said the student athletes took about 20 of the 50 $1 bills in his hand.

"I didn't stop them because it was not a big deal, and with eight to 10 guys surrounding me, I guess I felt a little bullied," he said.

CatCard Director Liz Taylor said the employee called her an hour after the incident and told her what had happened.

"He was scared he'd be blamed for the loss of money," she said.

The employee said he did not report the incident right away because he felt it was a petty amount of money.

"They were not threatening - they were just joking around," he said. "These guys are 18-year-olds, right out of high school. It takes time to learn responsibility."

UAPD Detective Joseph Rocco said they have determined who was involved in the incident and will begin interviewing the players tomorrow.

Rocco said the interviews with the student-athletes will be held in a casual setting.

"They're young freshman guys. For many this will be the first time they've come in contact with law enforcement," Rocco said. "We have ways (of) getting them to tell the truth."

UA Associate Athletic Director Kathleen LaRose said she is working with Athletic Director Jim Livengood and head football coach Dick Tomey on the department's part of the investigation.

"We take any allegations seriously," she said. "We don't want to see any kind of behavior like that."

Tomey said they have already held several meetings, but will wait until the UAPD and the Dean of Students Office have finished their investigations before making any final decisions regarding the players' status.

"We jump on these things pretty quickly," LaRose said. "If student athletes have done something wrong, they'll be duly reprimanded."

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