OTL: Florida Gators had most athletes involved in crimes, Ronald Powell avoided cocaine arrest

By Adam Silverstein
June 14, 2015

An Outside the Lines report released Sunday, the result of a 10-program investigation, found that the Florida Gators had the most football and men’s basketball athletes named in criminal investigations from 2009-14.

OTL found that 80 football and basketball players — making up 24 percent of the combined rosters — were cited for more than 100 crimes during that six-year span, also noting that the Gators had the most repeat offenders.

Twenty-five Florida athletes had multiple run-ins with police, often without facing charges or any public airing of what they did. Several police reports gathered by Outside the Lines also revealed that Florida athletes, if not suspected of criminal activity themselves, often hung out with people who were known offenders.

The television program that aired Sunday focused on former Gators running back Chris Rainey, noting that he had five run-ins with law enforcement during his time in Gainesville but was only cited once after allegedly pulling his then-girlfriend out of the car and slapping her after she took his cell phone.

The OTL story released online led with a previously unreported incident involving former linebacker Ronald Powell, who is currently a member of the New Orleans Saints.

A Gainesville police officer stopped [Powell] for a lane violation in 2014 – just a few months after he had been drafted by the New Orleans Saints. The officer noted that the address on his driver’s license was a known drug house. A canine officer came to the scene and flagged a likely presence of narcotics in the car, and the investigating officer searched it, finding a white powdery substance on the driver’s seat that she tested on site.

“You have cocaine in your car alright,” the officer said on the video during the traffic stop. “There’s reasons why I asked the questions I asked. You can’t answer questions straight. There’s more in there, so I can easily charge you. But you’re not in handcuffs OK, so just chill out.”

Powell was ultimately released by the officer and only given a warning for the lane violation. Despite him driving a rental car, the officer cited in the police report “that she did not believe the cocaine was Powell’s but was likely tied to a known drug offender who lived at the same address.”

However, OTL‘s Paula Lavigne, the lead reporter and investigator on the story, noted that Powell had been in trouble with local police before when in 2012 he “started yelling at and threatening the owner of a local store who wouldn’t give him items for free in addition to others he had planned to purchase.” He also received a warning for that incident.

Lavigne also cited previously known incidents, such as cornerback Janoris Jenkins both being involved in a fight in 2009 and having marijuana found in a car he was present in a year later. She also referenced defensive back Moses Jenkins‘s handful of minor incidents.

According to Lavigne, 56 percent of cases involving Florida football and men’s basketball players were either not prosecuted or dropped from 2009-14. Compared to the general population of “college-age males in Gainesville,” that number was double the 28 percent of those men who are accused of committing a crime but are either not charged or have their case dropped.

Florida State fell just behind UF in the full OTL report and was also the subject of the feature story that aired Sunday on ESPN.

Lavigne found that 66 FSU football and basketball players (18 percent of the combined rosters) were alleged to have committed crimes but 70 percent – a much higher number – either never received charges or were not prosecuted due to charges being dropped. That rate in the state capital of Tallahassee was also found to be higher, though, with 50 percent of “college-age males” facing similar circumstances.

OTL chose eight other programs: Auburn, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin for its report. Curiously not included are some of the larger programs in some of those states, such as Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.

FSU and Oregon State are accused of reaching out to both police and state attorneys in order to either interfere with investigations or convince officials to either not charge player or have charges against them dropped.

Michigan State and Notre Dame are currently in legal battles with ESPN to not release their information in one form or another. Here’s how OTL handled its investigation.


  1. Dave Massey says:

    As expected, a lot of Meyer’s players in there. Some who are still getting in trouble with the law.

  2. 1974Gator says:

    This is a sad testament to the living environments these UF and FSU kids grow up in in their home towns (mostly in the state of Florida). They become used to it in their neighborhoods and the destructive habits (or bad news friends) follow them to G’ville and Tally. I don’t have an answer just concern. Would anyone like to offer a solution?

  3. Jeremy says:


  4. Gator John says:

    I will be one of the first to agree that there was a lack of character in the players that were recruited during Meyer’s tenure. It is undeniable and cannot be defended. However I am concerned about the shortsightedness of this article. 10 schools? over the previous 6 years or so? Who decided which schools and for hoe long they would use as a sample? I would be interested to see the numbers of ALL D1 schools, from the year they first began their sports program. (yes I know that’s unreasonable) and lets see how the numbers shake out. I know not all states have the same transparent public records laws that Florida has, so it would hamper any full scale investigation. But I would be willing to bet that the numbers for such an investigation would prove its not as lopsided as this article makes it out to be. Just my two cents.

    • Dave Massey says:

      ESPN chose those schools and those years to get the most “sensationalism” out of their National Enquirer type story. Something they do too much of now.

      It’s still disturbing. One thing they don’t mention is that when Tallahassee PD has any contact with a criminole, the first call goes to Jimbo Fisher, a well know fact among law enforcement.

  5. Michael Jones says:

    Very impressive. My concern is mainly for the regular actual “college” students who have to be subjected to going to school with too many thugs. Must be a pretty crazy and sometimes pretty scary environment for an ACTUAL college student to find himself/herself in, like “WTH? I didn’t bargain for this.”

    I’m as avid and staunch and enthusiastic a sports fan as there is, and I bleed Orange and Blue, but winning games just isn’t important enough or worth putting up with that crap and lowering the overall standard of living on campus if those are the type of athletes we have to recruit to win games . . . let alone perform the way we did under Muschamp.

    • Dave Massey says:

      There is a lot of thuggery and bullying that goes on in locker rooms, sidelines, etc. I didn’t play in college but it was pretty prevalent in junior and senior high school. Not uncommon was gang type attitudes. Driskel was probably a victim of this last year. Nobody ever said those exact words but it sure smelled like it. (I still don’t think he is a good QB though.)
      Let’s face it, for the most part the guys playing major college football and basketball are not in the honor society. A lot of them wouldn’t be accepted at these schools if it wasn’t for their athletic ability. This is the downside of that.

      • senuod says:

        Driskel?? A victim of gang type attitudes in the locker room?

        Let’s not make assumptions like that with absolutely no proof. Let’s give the majority of this group of young men, who haven’t been involved in incidents, the benefit of the doubt.

        • Dave Massey says:

          Maybe you would prefer the word groups or cliques but when Driskel was in the games last year the level of effort, focus, and execution wasn’t the same as when Harris was sent into the game. You would have to have been blind not to have noticed it. Now, maybe it had a lot to do with his poor play and the players wanting a change but the mental mistakes, dropped passes, blown assignments, etc. we’re a lot higher with him in the game than when the change was made. This was an issue I brought up last year at the time on this site.

          Football is a game of intimidation and teams strive to physically and mentally dominate their opponent. With all that testosterone and alpha males running around don’t fool yourself into thinking it is all directed at the opponents, because it isn’t.

          Harris had two brushes with the law and so did Jackson. No matter what the majority does these two are what the general public is going to focus on. Percentage wise for a true freshman class it is not a good start .

          • senuod says:

            I understand what you were saying. I don’t disagree about the alpha mentality being in the locker room. I’ve played team sports and continue to still play them. I get that. And I absolutely noticed the difference in level of effort in the Tennessee game when Treon came on the field.

            There are always going to be troublemakers on a team. Especially in Florida, but when it comes down to it, there is a big difference in connotation between clique and gang type attitudes. Both center around a group acting together, but there’s a big difference in their meanings. I just don’t like people being painted with one big, negative brush. Especially the majority that have kept their noses clean (even if that only means they haven’t been caught…which probably applied to most of us at one point in our lives). No offense meant or taken.

  6. cline says:

    No Bueno at all. unreal.