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Sports blotter: "Title IX edition"
By MATT TAIBBI  |  April 16, 2008

LADY GAMECOCKS: Frosh hoopsters Jasmine Payne and Ashlie Billingslea were responsible for a mini rash of crimes.

Women’s hoops makes the big time
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS DISCLAIMER: The author of this piece originally intended to make not one but several wisecracks about women’s basketball in his lede. Because this is in bad taste, however, and needlessly insulting to the excellent example female athletes set for young girls everywhere, those wisecracks have been removed. Readers who would have been likely to laugh at such jokes may do so now anyway, in lieu of the actual (pointlessly offensive) jokes.

In any case, women’s hoops did get a boost this week when two members of the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team were arrested for offenses that seem worthy, frankly, of the best that men’s collegiate basketball has to offer.

Freshmen guards Jasmine Payne and Ashlie Billingslea were both arrested this past week on multiple charges of financial-card theft, financial-card fraud, and petty larceny, as well as weed possession with intent to distribute within a half-mile of a school.

Arrests involving female basketball players are still fairly rare. More often than not, it’s the coaches or administrators getting in trouble. For instance, Kelsey Corbin, director of basketball operations at Ball State and a former player for the Cardinals, was busted for a DUI in 2007. Angie Lee, then coach at Iowa, was busted for a classic Jake Peavy arrest (freaking out at traffic cops in a no-standing zone at an airport) in 1997 after she allegedly chest-bumped a state trooper in Connecticut — notably, after getting whipped by the Huskies.

Even earlier than that, a UConn women’s basketball player, Sue Mayo, was arrested in a rare cross-gender sports incident, after she got into a shoving match with a UConn men’s basketball player, Rudy Johnson.

On the whole, though, women’s hoops is pretty clean. We’ll give Payne and Billingslea a pass on the weed, but let’s dole out 24 points each on the card theft until further notice.

On a more serious note
Okay, this is a bad one. Sophomore quarterback Brandan Wright from tiny Bethune-Cookman University is in serious hot water after being arrested on drug and attempted-murder charges.

It seems that Wright was badly in need of money and could not take a job because of his student-athlete status. He ended up getting involved with drugs, and getting ripped off by somebody in a coke transaction.

According to police, Wright went to the house of one Shane O’Connor to collect 200 bucks he was owed. O’Connor invited him in and the two got baked. Later on, Wright went outside, got a shotgun, worked O’Connor over, and taped his hands and feet together on the toilet. When O’Connor escaped, Wright chased him down in an Isuzu Trooper and ran him over. O’Connor survived, but was treated for, among other things, “road rash” at a local hospital.

Cops later searched Wright’s dorm room and found both marijuana and coke packaged and ready to be sold.

This is some seriously vicious stuff. Wright vaults near the top of the list for this one — give him 89 points.

Purple people drinker
Ugly news for NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller. Nabbed previously for driving while impaired in 2006, he was arrested again for possible drunk driving this past week, with charges of assaulting two police officers also thrown into the mix.

Eller, 66, played from 1964 to 1979, mostly with the Minnesota Vikings. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. According to police reports, Eller was chased by cops to his home after doing 60 in a residential neighborhood. Once police arrived at his house, Eller refused to get out of his car, pulled the vehicle into his garage, and tried to close the garage door before the officers stopped him. Subsequently, what was apparently a pretty serious, Blazing Saddles–style fight broke out in his garage. Eller was Tasered, several times apparently, but in a shades-of–Bob Probert development, they had “little effect.” Police could be heard frantically calling for backup over the radio; the 6-6, 270-pound Eller allegedly punched one of the cops in the face and threw the other onto the hood of his SUV. The cops eventually got Eller in a choke hold, and the situation, er, normalized.

I’m on record as saying that, sooner or later, we’re going to have an athlete death as a result of the Taser. But this doesn’t seem like a Dale Davis, Taser-a-black-man-for-no-reason sort of incident. This sounds like a serious death match on all sides.

In any case, give Eller 25 for the DUI and 25 for the cop-assault — 50 total. Not good for a Hall of Famer.

When he’s not googling “the feminine mistake” and “Tasing saddles,” Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached

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  Topics: Sports , Jasmine Payne , Ashlie Billingslea , Carl Eller ,  More more >
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