Friday hasn’t exactly been a great news days for the Florida State football program.
On the heels of a Fox Sports investigative report that indicated Tallahassee police and Florida State University “took steps to both hide, and then hinder, the criminal investigation into a rape allegation” against quarterback Jameis Winston, comes two more reports.
ESPN is reporting that Florida State officials notified Winston on Friday that he will face a disciplinary hearing into charges that he raped a student back in 2012.
In a letter sent to Winston and his attorney on Friday and obtained by ESPN, FSU interim president Garnett Stokes and vice president for student affairs Mary B. Coburn notified Winston that he might be charged with as many as four violations of FSU’s student conduct code, two of which involve sexual conduct.
According to FSU’s student conduct policy, Winston has five school days to contact the school’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to schedule an information hearing, in which he will be advised about his rights and the upcoming student conduct hearing. The student conduct hearing would be held as soon as possible after the information hearing and would determine whether or not Winston is charged.
FSU officials have informed Winston that they have identified three individuals from outside the university who are willing to hear the case. Winston and his accuser each will have an opportunity to strike one of the people from hearing the case.
These actions are requirements under federal Title IX laws, which require school administrators to properly protect the rights of women students. As Fox Sports reported earlier, Florida State is currently the subject of a federal investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which is looking into whether the school violated federal statutes.
The crazy thing here is that it took almost two years from the time that the allegations were made for school officials to conduct a hearing that should have taken place long before.
In a second report, The New York Times is indicating that Florida State officials and some within the Tallahassee police have shown more regard for Florida State football than the justice of alleged victims in a wide range of situations.
The report includes these sentiments based off investigation into court and police records.
Now, an examination by The New York Times of police and court records, along with interviews with crime witnesses, has found that, far from an aberration, the treatment of the Winston complaint was in keeping with the way the police on numerous occasions have soft-pedaled allegations of wrongdoing by Seminoles football players. From criminal mischief and motor-vehicle theft to domestic violence, arrests have been avoided, investigations have stalled and players have escaped serious consequences.
The report goes on to list and detail specific situations that have occurred on or near the Florida State campus.
All of this information can easily be construed as nothing less than an attempt by local officials to cover up criminal activities of Florida State football players in order to help preserve the success of the team on the field.
And just now, are we starting to realize the extent of the corruption here.
We have heard stories of football being bigger than the law in certain areas of the United States where the high school and college game is almost bigger than the towns themselves. But for a school that is coming off a national championship and is in the public eye, these reports could very well lead to some dramatic changes in the policies of the school itself and potentially the NCAA as a whole.