A pair of Illinois players have been charged with theft between $500 and $10,000 after taking a sculpture from a Champaign park and relocating it to the top of their apartment building.
Jimmy Marchese, a junior linebacker, and Drew Murtaugh, a sophomore linebacker, told police they were walking home on the night of April 29 and saw a sculpture of a running deer, titled “Startled,” lying on the ground and took it home, placing the sculpture on the roof of their apartment. The Champaign Park District pleaded for the sculpture’s return on Facebook, and an anonymous tip led the authorities to Marchese and Murtaugh.
“Startled” has since been reinstalled at Champaign’s Scott Park, where the $5,000 sculpture will require touch-up work by the artist who created it.
“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.
The Illini pair has already appeared in court for a probable-cause hearing, and are due back on June 12. They face penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison.
Illinois spokesman Kent Brown told the News Gazette that head coach Lovie Smith is aware of the incident but has taken no action.
Marchese, a native of Vernon Hills, Ill., played in all 12 games in 2017 with two starts, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Murtaugh, hailing from Crystal Lake, Ill., did not letter as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but joined his partner in petty crime as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.