What exactly is going on in Tallahassee, or Florida State University (FSU)? Are student athletes there above the law? Nearly two years ago, Florida State’s star quarterback, Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault by a former student. To this day, he has not faced criminal prosecution, and even his university disciplinary hearing has been postponed yet again.
Could it be because the Florida State Seminoles are the reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Champions, or that their games contribute $10 million per game to the local economy that places them above the law?
There have in fact been recent cases of football players being held accountable for their actions. Recently one football player stole another student’s motor scooter and totaled it on a joy ride. That student athlete was made to pay restitution for the price of the scooter, in the amount of $1,074. This was after the student who owned the scooter had his mental capacity questioned by the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD), and his father had to get directly involved for the police to even question the student athlete.
At 2:37 a.m. on 5 October, after another Seminole’s win, two football players (star cornerbacks), and another passenger were involved in a “hit and run” accident. According to NY Times reporters Mike McIntire and Walt Bogdanich, this happened just minutes after a nearby Exxon station was broken into and robbed of merchandise. Police have not linked the two incidents, nor determined there was no link. After plowing into another vehicle the three fled on foot and didn’t return for 20 or 30 minutes. Both vehicles were totaled, yet the “hit and run” designation originally assigned to the accident was dropped by the TPD, and the driver was ticketed for driving while under suspension of license and making an illegal turn. The fine, from a statement by Bruce Levenson, has not been paid yet. A UCG investigation found that the police did not administer a toxicology test, or question him or his passengers about the break-in.
FSU student athletes are not the only student athletes with an elevated status. Other student athletes participate in questionable activities, some disciplined, some not. Colleges and universities are a place of higher learning; however, if these students are not held accountable for their actions, they are not learning. What message are we sending other students? Or, more importantly what message are we sending their victims?