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Florida State’s recent success overshadowed by Winston’s troubles

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On Saturday, Florida State’s football team defeated Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, sealing a spot in the inaugural four-team college football playoffs.

But for many fans around the nation, the focus is not on Florida State as a team, but its troubled quarterback, Jameis Winston.

The redshirt sophomore has been surrounded by controversy in his two years as the school’s starting quarterback. He has been involved in a sexual assault case, a burglary and was also punished for shouting obscenities at the Florida State student union.

Winston’s repeated immature and troubling behavior suggests that he simply doesn’t get it, and he doesn’t get it because Florida State has never handed him an effective punishment. The school has enabled him to walk away from these offenses with mild punishments that have appeared to have no effect on him.

After a of couple slaps on the wrist here and there, Winston and the Seminoles are now two wins away from a second consecutive national championship. The team has yet to lose a game in his two years as the starting signal-caller. It’s hard not to assume that Florida State has avoided handing Winston harsher punishments in order to preserve its success on the football field.

In November of 2013, Winston was accused of sexually assaulting a female student in December of the previous year. Winston was a redshirt freshman at the time of the accusation, and was a true freshman when the incident allegedly occurred. One month later, the state attorney decided not to charge Winston for sexual assault, due to lack of evidence.

Winston was in the midst of a tremendous college football season at the time of the accusation, and he would go on to win the Heisman Trophy, the award given to the best overall college football player in the country.

Many people were wondering why it took almost an entire year for the female victim to accuse Winston of rape, and a few people were skeptical because it wasn’t until he was having great success on the football field that the accusation came about.

So Winston wasn’t charged. No surprise there; that is the outcome of many sexual assault cases. It is often very difficult to find enough evidence in a case like Winston’s. Here’s my problem: not only was he not charged, but he received no internal punishment from the Florida State football team. Why? Because they were in the middle of an undefeated season and wanted to win the national championship, which they would end up doing. Florida State cared more about its football team’s success than for the welfare of its students.

I understand that it’s possible Winston might not have done anything. But he should have at least been suspended until the case was resolved. He is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, but the school should have sent a stern message by suspending him until the state attorney’s decision. Once the charges were dropped, then they could have reinstated him. The school had a chance to make a statement regarding the widespread issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Instead, Winston didn’t miss a single game, and he learned nothing from it.

A few months later, in April 2014, Winston stole snow crab legs from a local supermarket. This time he was punished because there was actual video evidence of the crime. Winston, who was playing for Florida State’s baseball team at the time, was handed a two-game suspension, 20 hours of community service and a fine of $33 (the cost of the crab legs). My goodness, what a punishment! He was a closer on the baseball team, so there was a good chance he wouldn’t have needed to pitch in those two games anyway. He should have at least received a 10-game suspension from the baseball team, to ensure that he would truly miss some playing time. This was Florida State’s chance to really send him a message. Instead, he got a two-game vacation and a little bit of community service. Boo-hoo.

In September 2014, Winston stood up on a table at the student union and shouted a vulgar phrase. This resulted in a laughable suspension of just the first half of a football game against Clemson, but the suspension was later extended to the entire game, which was still too soft. Florida State still won without him, so unfortunately, he once again learned nothing. The school should have suspended him for at least five games. I truly believe that would have shaken him up and given him the wake-up call that he still has yet to receive. The Seminoles likely would have lost a couple of those games if he was given a longer suspension, and it would have taught him a lesson. But the program was too worried about winning games, so they gave him another slap on the wrist.

Throughout his entire college career, Winston has been given special treatment that has convinced him that he can get away with anything. Because he can. If you combine all three of his offenses/accusations, he has received a grand total of a three-game suspension, 20 hours of community service and a $33 fine, which was simply the price of the delicious crab legs he stole. God forbid Florida State’s mighty quarterback should have to pay for snow crab legs like everyone else! These are the punishments he’s received for rape, theft and obscene language in a public setting. He truly can get away with anything, and he has realized that. And it’s all because Florida State refuses to send him an adequate message.

 

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Florida State’s recent success overshadowed by Winston’s troubles