Last year, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston guided his team to a national championship victory and won the Heisman trophy in the process. Amazingly, all of this occurred amid accusations that the freshman QB had sexually assaulted a young woman and the Tallahassee police and the university were trying to cover it up.
In an April New York Times report, Walt Bogdanich wrote about the botched investigation:
In fact, an examination by The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.
The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.
The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.
Bogdanich also notes that the football program was well aware of the accusation, but both it and the school sat on it until after the Seminoles had won the 2014 national championship:
Records show that Florida State’s athletic department knew about the rape accusation early on, in January 2013, when the assistant athletic director called the police to inquire about the case. Even so, the university did nothing about it, allowing Mr. Winston to play the full season without having to answer any questions. After the championship game, in January 2014, university officials asked Mr. Winston to discuss the case, but he declined on advice of his lawyer.
Flash forward to September 2014. We’re now at the apparent nadir of the NFL’s domestic violence PR freefall, and Winston is in trouble again. This time for reportedly climbing on top of a table in the FSU student union and shouting, “Fuck her right in the pussy.”
It apparently didn’t matter to the powers that be at Florida State that Winston was seemingly reciting what is more or less a catchphrase in a internet meme, Winston had to be punished. And so he will not be able to play the first half of this weekend’s game against the Clemson Tigers.
Clemson fans cheer, Seminole fans jeer, and anyone with half a brain immediately understands that Winston’s punishment has less to do with his crime and more to do with accusations that big-dollar football supports and protects wife beaters and other domestic violence thugs.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine that such a punishment — however minor — would have been levied against Winston for his student union standup routine if it had occurred anytime before the sport’s recent unpleasantness. But the domestic violence media relations fiasco is on everybody’s mind, and even big companies like Anheuser-Busch and others have publicly voiced their concerns about the league’s legacy of protecting brutality. So Florida State knew that it had to act. Interim President Garnett S. Stokes and Athletic Director Stan Wilcox issued a joint statement on the matter:
As the university’s most visible ambassadors, student-athletes at Florida State are expected to uphold at all times high standards of integrity and behavior that reflect well upon themselves, their families, coaches, teammates, the Department of Athletics and Florida State University. Student-athletes are expected to act in a way that reflects dignity and respect for others.
Apparently those “high standards” Stokes and Wilcox approve of don’t include lewd comments, but they just might include rape. Go team!
Cover photo by Flickr user jrzykat