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March 07, 2011
Sports Illustrated
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March 07, 2011

Rap Sheets, Recruits And Repercussions

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Sports Illustrated


A six-month investigation by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and CBS News reveals that an alarming number of the players at top college football programs have criminal records. A comprehensive look at where the problem begins, how it has been ignored and what can be done to rectify it—for the good of both the athletes and the schools

The Coach's Dilemma

P. 35

What Should Be Done

P. 38

On March 31, 2010, 16-year-old Viliseni Fauonuku, his cousin Sam Langi and five other young men were in the garage of a house in West Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City. A man who rented the house called the garage a "smoke shop"; where he and his friends went to smoke cigarettes during Utah's frigid winter months. It was also a known hangout where local kids came and went.

Two of those present were, like Fauonuku, still in high school, and none was over 20 years old. Only one of the five young men knew Fauonuku, though others knew of him: He was a star defensive lineman on nearby Bingham High's football team. He had unmistakable long, black hair and a powerful physique—290 pounds on a 6-foot frame—that had gotten the attention of college recruiters.

As Fauonuku sat in a chair in the garage, his cousin talked with one young man, and police records reflect that at some point Langi inquired about buying some marijuana. According to those records Fauonuku later told authorities that this was the prearranged signal for him to act. Fauonuku stood up and from his waistband pulled a handgun that witnesses said looked like a 9-mm. He cocked the gun, pointed it at the men and demanded their wallets. Some were shaking as they handed over their billfolds and money.

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