Tom Murphy is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. He was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Jeremy Sprinkle suspended for Belk Bowl after cited in shoplifting case
Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle scores a touchdown during the first quarter of a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Fayetteville.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle's career has ended a game early after he was cited this week in a shoplifting case, police records show.
Sprinkle, a senior, was suspended for Thursday's game against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl for "conduct detrimental to the team," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said in a statement.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesman said Sprinkle was cited Tuesday night at a Belk department store in Charlotte for unlawful concealment. According to a police report filed in the case, Sprinkle is accused of concealing several items from the store "in one of his shopping bags and did not pay for the merchandise." The report classifies the incident as shoplifting.
In total, the merchandise was valued at nearly $260 and included two wallets, a pair of Nike socks and a Ralph Lauren shirt.
Arkansas players had a shopping spree at the Belk store as part of pregame activities leading up to the Belk Bowl. The players were each given a $450 gift card and 20 percent manager's discount at the store, a bowl spokesperson said.
A team spokesperson said Sprinkle isn't at the stadium, but will remain in Charlotte during the game. Bielema said Sprinkle will fly home with the team Friday.
"Jeremy's suspension has been known by our staff and players for several days so we've had a chance to prepare our game plan accordingly," Bielema said. "Throughout his career and this season as a graduate student-athlete, Jeremy has displayed numerous times the qualities we want to represent our program. We have standards within our family that must be upheld on a daily basis and unfortunately he failed to do that in the last week."
He has 33 catches for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns this season as the team's starting tight end. He has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl next month in Mobile, Ala.
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