UVa Football Player Arrested for Theft

Mike Brown has been arrested for theft and selling stolen goods, Barney Breen-Portnoy and Jay Jenkins write in the Progress. The 21-year-old broke into a student’s car in the Newcomb parking garage stole $3,400 worth of A/V equipment, and then tried to sell it on eBay. The kid from whom the stuff was stolen bought the stuff on eBay, knowing it was his, but apparently Brown was running a scam, because he never sent anything. Police found the stuff in his apartment, along with marijuana. What a maroon.

31 Responses to “UVa Football Player Arrested for Theft”

  • I’m not faulting the coverage of this story at all. I am curious, however, how many UVa non-football players have done similar things — stolen items, that is, and then either kept them or resold them on EBay or something similar. It’s hard to say, of course, because when non-athletes do it, it doesn’t grab headlines. Which creates the impression that this is something only a (black) college athlete would do. Which I believe is a mistaken impression.

    Which is not to say I don’t think this is (cville)newsworthy. I just wonder about the incidents we don’t hear about.

  • geez…it just occurred to me i’ll probably be crucified by someone for wanting to coddle criminals or for somehow “justifying” theft.

    let me be perfectly clear: if he did it (and personally I suspect he did), Mike Brown should be expelled, and kicked off the team, and should serve some time. It is not okay to steal other people’s stuff.

    my post above focuses on the meta angle — the “reflecting on the news itself” angle.

  • The same thoughts flitted through my head as I was writing this up. I’ve got nothing useful to add, though, just this me too.

  • I agree with your questioning of assumptions and observing of differences between treatment of white criminals vs black criminals, normal student crimes vs student athlete crimes. White UVa students stole a Hokie mascot, yet their names weren’t released. The owner of the stolen mascot said

    “These boys have made a mistake and we don’t want them to suffer excessively”


    “If they make full restitution for what they’ve done and are contrite, they may not face the worst penalties,” he said. “The judge can be more lenient on them … but there are no guarantees.”

    The mascots are worth $7500 each…the eBay stuff was worth $3400. Let’s see who gets a harsher sentence. Anybody know if the frat boys got expelled for what was clearly an honor code violation?

  • Come on, guys. Football players at division 1 schools get away with murder. Maybe not literally, but almost. Read this series, a likely Pulitzer candidate, and be depressed:


  • Swiping a mascot from a rival school is the kind of college student prank that has long been around. Often something done on impulse,it shows thoughtlessness more than criminal intent.
    But stealing your classmate’s possessions for resale is in another category entirely. Premeditated and with the person knowing that it is wrong.
    Its like the difference between a bunch of kids toiletpapering a house on Halloween, as opposed to setting it on fire with the residents inside asleep.
    I suspect, and would like to see figures, that male college athletes particularly in basketball and football commit a disproportionate amount of serious crimes by college students. I am talking not about potsmoking, but assaults, rapes, larceny and the like.
    Lets face it, when a college commits to having a bigtime athletic program so often it admits as students people who would not be there otherwise, are admitted only because they can throw a pass or shoot a basket.

  • I call bullshit, Hollowboy. It’s a double standard: “The kind of stupid mistakes my kind of people make as kids is different from the kinds of mistakes other kinds of kids make.” This is EXACTLY the kind of thinking that sends black youth to jail and sends white boys back to slaps on the wrists and community service. White judges, white mascot owners, and white cops get all nostalgic when they see these ruddy young lads who commit the same kind of crimes they themselves committed as kids and got away with. The white justice system looks at the frat boys and sees themselves. They don’t want to harshly punish themselves. These frat boys look just like their own sons and little brothers…so they get leniency.

    People who look like the “other” get the full “fairness” of law enforcement. Your example doesn’t work because it’s vandalism versus manslaughter, not vandalism vs vandalism:

    *White kids vandalize houses in Hollymead with egg and TP, they get grounded by their parents. Black kids vandalize businesses on the Downtown Mall with spray paint, they get juvie.
    *White kids steal their parents’ car and crash it, they don’t get their license until they’re 18. Black kids steal a stranger’s car and crash it, they get juvie.
    *White kids set up a bullying ring in their high school, beating up random kids, and the administration doesn’t do jack. Black kids set up a bullying ring out in the streets of Charlottesville, and all of a sudden the cops get involved and kids get arrested.

    This happens all the funking time in Charlottesville, ESPECIALLY among the child population. White kids and rich kids get treated differently when they do wrong than black kids and poor kids. Every kind of kid funks up and does wrong things on occasion. But white privilege and money protect you from full “fairness” of law. The harsh sentencing in Jena didn’t surprise me because I saw that kind of differential sentencing frequently as a child and teen in this town. This is still the Dirty South, and the Dirty Secret is that we don’t even realize how racist we still are.

  • JMZ, your link doesn’t seem to work, at least not for the two browsers I’ve tried.

    I can think of at least one white non-athlete UVa student who pretty much got away with murder. His name was Andrew Alston.

    Let’s look again at your statement: “Football players at division 1 schools get away with murder. Maybe not literally, but almost.”

    Really? All D1 football players, or just some of them? And they’re out there murdering people in their spare time and getting away scot-free? Wow. That sounds a little…hysterical, to me.

    HollowBoy, I get your point about the difference between “swiping” (way to choose a euphemism that minimizes the crime) the mascot and swiping — oops, no euphemism for Mike Brown, let’s choose a more damning term, like “stealing” audio equipment. I see the difference. But are you suggesting that the frat boys did not realize what they were doing was wrong? Or that it wasn’t premeditated? I mean, that’s not the difference between them and Mike Brown — they premeditated as much as he did, and they knew what they were doing was wrong as much as he did. The difference is that one theft was in the context of good ol’ boy fun, and the other was for personal profit. LaGrape said this better than I could: one set of criminals looked an awful lot like some young George W. Bushes just raisin’ a little heck, and the other looks like The Big Black Boogeyman of every white person’s nightmare.

    HollowBoy has this hunch, based on no actual figures (he’d like to see them but he’s not looking it up himself!) that male college athletes are disproportionately committing serious crimes. Is it possible that you believe this is true because the media creates a perception that it’s true in the way that it reports on student crimes? In other words, if we never hear about the non-athletes who commit rapes, theft, etc., but we do hear about it when it’s an athlete, then of course we walk away thinking “damn, those athletes are all a bunch of criminals.”

  • How about those middle-class white kids in Albemarle that got locked up for months-and in the end the prosecution really had no case?
    Now I can agree that it often comes down to money- but not necessarily race.
    OJ got off because he was wealthy, like wise Andrew Alston. If OJ had been a black guy from the projects,or if Alston had been a white kid from a trailer park who murdered a UVa student, what do you think the outcome would have been?
    Jena? Perhaps the sentence was excessive- but the fact remains that a violent crime was committed, those kids were not martyrs-no one claimed they were framed. But the media tried to equate them with Emmett Till.
    Joyriding and other stupid pranks cannot be equated with violent crimes. Whether its guys in white tee-shirts or skinheads dressed in black, those who single out others for assaults or robberies because they are white or black or gay or a UVa student or a tourist are felons ,pure and simple.
    And another thing,student-athletes are among the most privileged meembers of the University community. They are not among the downtrodden and oppressed of our society! It would have been bad enough if he had stolen from a store, but stealing from a classmate is much worse.
    When I was at the University and lived in a dorm, we never locked our doors when we went out. We really did have a community of trust. If what Brown did was not an honor offense, they may as well toss out the entire Honor System!

  • I think it comes down to money and race. Our society simply views black males as more threatening than whites, in general, and reacts more harshly and hysterically to their crimes. Money is definitely a factor but I think you’re just not paying attention if you think race is not a factor too.

    A student-athlete can simultaneously occupy a glamorous, seemingly privileged position while he or she is at school AND come from a poor, disadvantaged background. All that great “privilege” that they enjoy walking around Grounds doesn’t keep their brothers and fathers from getting shot to death back home (happened to three different student-athletes that I know personally); their privilege doesn’t help them when they are charged with honor offenses, because their coaches can’t and won’t get involved in any way and their families don’t have the savvy and connections to work the system (unlike the white well-off student I know whose parents managed to get her CMD claim [Contributory Mental Disorder] to evade the charges, and who is still at the university despite clearly and unequivocally plagiarizing a paper); their privilege doesn’t get them any extra spending money on Grounds, because, believe me, at Virginia, the student-athletes are NOT getting money under the table; their privilege does not get them an easier workload or higher grades, despite what everyone likes to believe; it’s simply not true that they aren’t doing their own work or that they don’t have to do the same work as everyone else.

    From what I can tell, their “privilege” at UVa pretty much gets them into bars when they’re underage somewhat more than a non-athlete might (though plenty of underage non-athletes are getting into bars too); gets the male athletes more chicks than some non-athletes might get (though the rich frat guys are getting plenty too); and gets them some attention and adulation as they walk across grounds (big whoop). I don’t see a lot more privileges coming their way than that.

  • Cecil,
    Re browsers and that link: I don’t really know what to say — it works fine in both of mine (Safari and Firefox).

    Maybe try it again? It’s a series in the Seattle Times about the University of Washington’s last team to contend for a national championship, in 2000. The paper found that a disturbing number of players on the team exhibited criminal behavior — domestic abuse, drunk driving, rape and, yes, a shooting of a drug dealer that luckily did not end up being fatal — that was ignored or minimized by the local community, including the press, the justice system, the university, the team’s coaching staff, and the fans. (Well-meaning local internet liberals are not mentioned — maybe not all college towns have those?) Anyway, the strong implication is that having a winning team was so important to people in the area, for economic and other reasons, that they were willing to look the other way.

    Aside from the obvious harm to the victims of these crimes — and there is some really horrifying stuff in there, so I do hope that you can find a way to view it in one of your browsers — there is the complicity of the entire big-time athletics system in creating and then destroying these men. Of the players featured in the series, one is dead and another had a promising career in the NFL cut short by continuing legal problems from subsequent offenses.

    So. Do I mean “all D1 players or just some of them?” Um, what do you think? I see that it was easier for you to caricature my point than to engage with it, but, if I may set your mind at ease, let me assure you that I meant only some of them. Maybe a more precise way to put it is, if college atletes are inclined to misbehave, there are plenty of people ready and willing to excuse their behavior. Does that work for you?

    I went to a football school, and some of the players I knew there were among the smartest, most disciplined and hardworking people there. I have a relative who is a student-athlete (albeit not d1), and the demands on his time are far greater than anything I faced in college.

    Unfortunately, while I was at school, there were also rapes, thefts, and a lot of other things committed by other athletes that would have gotten plenty of other less-connected students kicked out of school, but that were dealt with quietly and didn’t seem to hurt anyone’s athletic career, or the team’s ranking. (And, so you know, some of the athletes who did these things were white, and some were black.) This kind of double standard is destructive to so many people, not least to people like that relative of mine, who doesn’t need or want those kinds of breaks.

    Do well-connected who aren’t football players people get away with things like this too? Of course. But that doesn’t mean athletes, well-connected in their own way, don’t have people protecting them too. Unfortunately for them in the end, it isn’t for their sake, but for the sake of the multi-million dollar sports industry they’re carrying on their backs.

    Here are links to the individual Seattle Times stories:


    I hope you have better luck with them next time.

  • maroon or moron… or did I miss something?

  • Granted, UVa to its credit, has not on the whole allowed its athletic program to become like some schools have.
    Oh, the honor thing. Back in the 80s a UVa basketball player, Olden Polynice, turned in a paper not his own and somehow managed to escape conviction for an honor offense supposedly because of Terry Holland running interference for him.
    He gets this “second chance” and what does he do? Gets caught shoplifting headphones from Roses and is convicted in court. He then leaves for the NBA. I recall how many older alumni being very upset over this double standard. Also understand when UVA played VMI(who has an even more rigid honor system) players and fans turned their backs on him when he was introduced.
    And then there was the flap a few years ago when some UVA athletes received what the NCAA deemed improper funds from the Virginia Student Aid Foundation.
    Its really sad when someone from an underprivileged background gets a chance like being able to attend UVA on scholarship and then risks throwing it all away by committing a serious crime. Remember star hoops recruit Melvin Whitaker who had a bright future ahead at UVa until he senselessly slashed someone in the face after an argument in a pickup basketball game. Wasnt an on the spot act either- he went home, got a boxcutter knife and came back to the gym! He was lucky he didnt face a murder charge had the blade hit the jugular.
    And yes, our society does view black males as more threatening. Yes this is unfortunate but crime statistics do back it up to some extent.
    On the other hand,what would appear more threatening, a group of obviously college students with backpacks, etc who happened to be black, or a bunch of thuggish looking white guys? To me, obviously the latter. By the way, I was once the victim of an attempted robbery-and the perp was white.
    Guess what I am trying to say, there are no simple answers or explanations. What they say about stereotypes is true-some members of a group do fit them. What is wrong is when the stereotypes are applied to ALL members of a group. Like those who think all Hispanics are illegal immigrants. Of course you could be Virgil Goode who thinks Mexican immigrants are Muslim! I understand he actually said that in a USA Today interview.
    I came from a family where I was the first to graduate high school, and go to college. I tried to carry myself in such a way as not to let down the “folks back home” by getting into trouble. And to not give the doubters who believed that someone from my background could “never amount to anything” a reason to gloat.
    Maybe thats the sort of attitude we need to inculcate in some of our youth who have opportunities that none of their ancestors could even dream of.

  • The link worked for me. It wasn’t worth looking at. Hollowboy, do you really think three African-American football players in Seattle being suspected of crimes is indicative of a general trend? You have used a better of logic many times before on this blog, shame on you.
    I remember a while back, the Newcomb Hall Booksotre declared that over a quater of a million dollars in merchandise had been stolen, obviously by students. They then indicated that they were not going to install scanners or prohibit backpacks because that would fly in the face of the Honor Code. Talk about a delusion. About the time you weren’t locking your dorm door, my calculus text book was stolen in Cabell Hall while I was in the bathroom.
    Re-reading your post and excluding all of that Honor crap puts it more in line with the comments of LaGrape and Cecil. Try it and re-post, please.

  • What an ignoranimous!

  • Olden Polynice: What a laugh?!

    He the guy that was arrested impersonating a cop in Salt Lake City. I can remember Karl Malone commenting on this during his commentary during an NBA game: “you’re not a cop, you’re Olen Polynice”. Really, this is a large human being who let’s face it stands out in SLC. And this was the 2nd or 3rd time he was caught impersonating a cop. Great laughs.

  • jmz writes, “Do well-connected who aren’t football players people get away with things like this too? Of course. But that doesn’t mean athletes, well-connected in their own way, don’t have people protecting them too.”

    You’ll need to show me where anyone on this thread suggested that in general athletes don’t have people protecting them. You won’t find that assertion in any of my posts. My point, pretty clearly stated when I initiated this thread, is that the media can be counted on to put a student-athlete’s transgression on the front page, above the fold, with a picture of the athlete and his name spelled out. The same is not true of non-athletes who commit similar crimes. And I am suggesting that this imbalanced media coverage creates the impression among many that it is primarily student athletes who commit “really bad” crimes on campus (as opposed to those good ol’ boy crimes).

    And I don’t see how I’m caricaturing your point when what I did was quote it: you said “Football players at division 1 schools get away with murder.” That’s a caricature in and of itself. You did a better job in your second post of clarifying and qualifying your first statement, though. Some football players at some schools have gotten away with things that some non-athletes might not have gotten away with, but that other non-athletes might have gotten away with equally as easily. One could easily conclude that it’s a draw.

    I’m curious, though: if you were to find yourself in a situation where you were accused of a really bad crime, would you rather be (a) a white non-athlete from a wealthy family with a lot of connections or (b) a high-profile black D1 football player from a disadvantaged background?

  • Why is the word “disadvantaged” usually found near the word “black?”

  • I guess it wasn’t so much caricature as deliberately not acknowledging obvious hyperbole for the sake of making a cheap point. It’s an expression, man. “Getting away with murder” does not always literally mean “killing someone and not being punished,” and I think that’s pretty widely accepted.

    Anyways. I’d rather be (a) in every situation, of course. One of the many sad things about all of this is that these guys are only sheltered for as long as they’re useful to the larger machinery, and then they’re cast off on their own. Whereas if your dad owns FedEx or something, you’re pretty much set for life.

    And, to CvilleEye: That you didn’t find any of that worth reading says more about you than about it. I can answer your question for HollowBoy, though:

    “do you really think three African-American football players in Seattle being suspected of crimes is indicative of a general trend?”

    Uh, yeah, and it strikes me as breathtakingly naive to think otherwise. Are you suggesting that those are the only football players anywhere to be accused of crimes? (Plus this one guy in Cville of course)

  • To put it slightly differently, I think there is undoubtedly a trend of our education system failing its student-athletes in many ways, including encouraging and/or ignoring destructive behavior, or not encouraging. And in many cases, this failure hurts other people too, like the guy who lost his stereo.

  • I don’t think they are the only COLLEGE students anywhere not accused of a crime. I’m wondering what happened in 2000 has to do with anything.
    jmz, would you spell out for Duh exactly what the trend is? I find it difficult to extrapolate a trend out of three stories. Clarify please.

  • jmz, posted mine while you were posting yours. And do you think you and Hollowboy are saying the same thing?

  • I think he and I are making some of the same points and some different ones. He’s saying a lot of different things in there.

    btw, I mistakenly chopped out part of my last post while posting. Here’s what I meant to say:

    To put it slightly differently, I think there is undoubtedly a trend of our education system failing its student-athletes in many ways, including encouraging and/or ignoring destructive behavior, or not encouraging the right kind of behavior (e.g. rewarding athletic but not academic achievment, or making the academic secondary to the athletic.) And in many cases, this failure hurts other people too, like the guy who lost his stereo.

  • Yes, I agree that the honor system is not what it was when I was an undergrad at UVA(late 60s). The bookstore is living in a dream world if it thinks it does not need to take precautions against theft. But believe me-back then we really could safely assume that our possessions were secure and that honor was not just a word. What a sad commentary on today’s society.
    I never mentioned any Seattle football players in my post and did not visit that link so I don’t see how that refers to anything I said.
    Non African-American athletes that screw up? Check some of the names in the baseball steroid scandals. And there have been some at UVa too. I remember back in the Welsh era when a couple white Uva football players punched out a University employee when he had their car towed for illegally parking in his driveway on Rugby Road. Welsh suspended them for a year, I believe.
    And I think its safe to say a lot of non-athlete frat boys create their share of problems, and I don’t just mean swiping statues. Things like date rape and assaults stemming from a mixture of alcohol and testosterone.

  • I was just thinking about Clay Buchholz, the (white) pitcher for the Red Sox who threw a no-hitter last year, in his rookie season. He was arrested in high school for stealing 29 laptops from his school and selling them. But, as his wikipedia entry notes, “Buchholz turned down offers to play wide receiver at Texas, Notre Dame, Purdue and Texas A&M.” Maybe those schools thought they could rehabilitate him, or maybe they just didn’t care?

  • So that race can’t be played as a factor in this blog…can we please release mr. washington….after all life is just way to much for the little crimes he committed….

  • Wow, you all need to get out of 2×2 cubicle and devote your time to making some sort of difference where it’s needed. Granted, I appreciate the discussion, but when each post is nit-picked to the bone, it seems you lose sight of the heart and soul of the matter. I gather this is the standard back and forth of the blogosphere, but for goodness sake, make your point and move on! As for how what the heck I’m doing here, I’m wondering if anyone else noticed that the Daily Progress prints the name of the “victim” of said theft. Is this ethical?

  • I’ll have you know I post from a windowless room in my apartment while wearing pajamas. No cubicles for this man!

  • Mike Brown comes from a wealthy family. Quit saying “underpriveladged.” this word doesnt apply.

  • In Charlottesville, “black,” “poor,” “disadvantaged” and “underprivileged” are often used interchangeably I’ve noticed. It’s part of many local discussions using a heavy dose of stereotypes. I won’t go into the words that accompany long-time residents of Belmont. The person using it usually feels better about himself when he’s found someone he can feel socially superior to. Often times, the adjective really has absolutely nothing to do with the conversation.

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