Illinois football players charged with theft for taking deer sculpture

Illinois football coach Lovie Smith

Oh, dear.

Jimmy Marchese and Drew Murtaugh, linebackers for the Illinois football program, were walking home on April 29 when they saw a sculpture of a deer laying on the ground at a Champaign park and felt the need to take it home with them.

At least, that’s the story the two football players told cops after the Champaign Park District reported the sculpture, entitled “Startled,” missing and tipsters led the cops to the players’ apartment. They had proudly displayed the deer on their roof, apparently unaware they had done anything wrong.

The sculpture has since made its way back to the park, though it needed a bit of TLC.

“We had to have the artist come and do some work on it. We think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again,” Champaign Park District director Joe DeLuce told the Champaign News Gazette.

Both players have already appeared in court once and are scheduled to appear again on June 12. If convicted of theft, they could face discipline ranging from five years in prison to probation, per the report.

The Illinois football program, led by former NFL coach Lovie Smith, issued a short statement noting Smith is aware of the incident but has yet to take any action against his players.