Four University of Tennessee athletes reported thefts of expensive electronic equipment from their dorm rooms several weeks before the theft that led to charges against former tight end Cameron Clear.
The burglaries during March and April bring to nine the total from UT athletes in Gibbs Hall.
UT associate athletic director for communications Jimmy Stanton would not comment on these earlier burglaries, which were reported by sophomore wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers, sophomore placekicker Michael Palardy and freshmen walk-on basketball players Galen Campbell and Brandon Lopez, according to UT Police Department incident reports. No arrests were made.
UT football coach Derek Dooley dismissed Clear last Friday, two days after the sophomore was charged with theft of a laptop from a UT baseball player living in Gibbs.
The laptop Clear is accused of stealing came from a May 19 burglary of five baseball players' dorm room in Gibbs, according to police records.
Clear, 19, faces a felony charge of theft up to $10,000. He is free on $2,500 bond.
Dooley initially suspended Clear the day after his arrest. At the time, Stanton wouldn't say whether other athletes had reported similar thefts.
On Tuesday, when reached by phone at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., Stanton told the News Sentinel that there would be no comment on police matters.
The first burglary at Gibbs was reported March 11 to UT police by Campbell, according to reports obtained through a public records request. The former standout at Fulton High School told police a Toshiba laptop valued at $500 was stolen.
Three days later, Lopez, a former standout at Austin-East, told police a PlayStation 3 valued at $600 was taken from his room.
Things were quiet at Gibbs for more than a month until police responded to two thefts — just seven hours apart — on April 19, two days before the Orange and
Rogers told police his MacBook Pro valued at $1,300 was taken from his room. Later, Palardy said his MacBook Pro valued at $1,840 was swiped along with a computer charger.
Clear was sitting at the entrance to Neyland Stadium last Tuesday when UT police caught him online on a MacBook Pro that belonged to freshman pitcher Brandon Zajac, according to an arrest warrant.
Zajac and the other four freshman baseball players — outfielder Richard Carter, who's no longer on the team, pitcher Robbie Kidd, infielder Will Maddox, and pitcher Connor Stevens — reported a burglar had hit their dorm rooms.
When Dooley was asked about Clear's dismissal by reporters at the SEC meetings he indicated it was a difficult decision.
"You guys know me well enough to know, No. 1, I don't make those decisions on a whim. I try to be very diligent. I try to give second chances when I can or when I think it's appropriate."
"Circumstances were such that we needed to part ways. The team needed it to happen. Cam needed it to happen. And I needed it to happen.
"I still support Cam. I still believe in Cam Clear, as disappointed as I was — and shocked — at some of the decisions he's made.
"But I'm still for him. I hope he learns from (the mistakes) and gets back on track. I think he will."
Phil Kaplan is sports editor. He may be reached at 865-342-6285. Follow him at http://twitter.com/philkaplan