It has been almost five years since Jameis Winston led the Florida State Seminoles to victory over the Auburn Tigers in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game and almost six years since he was the recipient of the 2013 Heisman trophy. It has also been almost six years since this same “legendary” quarterback was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow Florida State University student. However, few people attribute the latter incident to be defining for Winston and his career, as little to nothing was done regarding this allegation. Little to no investigation occurred, no charges were filed, and no sanctions were imposed by either Florida State University or the Florida State Athletic Department.
Until the release of the documentary “The Hunting Ground” in 2015, the media chalked the allegations up to nothing more than a woman trying to find a way to smear Winston’s “great” name and garner spotlight for herself. This is starkly contrasted in the film, as the documentary shows that the allegations against Winston were serious and could have most likely been substantiated with an investigation, one that should have been procedure. However, this particular film shows how little was done due to who Winston was and his stature in the college football town. It appears that to the Tallahassee Police Department, it did not matter the physical and psychological harm Jameis Winston had inflicted upon Erica Kinsman. The only thing that mattered was that nothing impede Winston in his quest to bring a National Championship title back home to Florida State.
Unfortunately, Jameis Winston is not an isolated offender in the world of college athletics. There is a systemic issue with student athletes committing offenses and suffering little to no consequence, especially in regards to matters of sexual assault allegations. This is despite the fact that athletes are supposed to be held accountable by their school, athletic department, athletic conference, the NCAA, and the law*. Examples of these cases go back to the early 1970s at colleges spanning across the country including Tennessee, Baylor, USC, Notre Dame, Texas, Auburn, and Oklahoma.
It seems unfathomable that even with five separate entities possessing the power to hold student athletes accountable for their actions, Jameis Winston received no punishment for his alleged actions against Erica Kinsman. However, he was not the first offender of the kind, and unfortunately, he will not be the last unless the entire system of college athletics takes steps to enact change in its culture. It must begin to investigate allegations to the fullest extent, regardless of the possible ramifications for individual teams if the accused player becomes ineligible to play due to his or her actions.
This is not to say that every accused player is guilty of the claims against them, but unless the allegations are pursued with the proper vigor, they should not be permitted to rise in fame in their specific sport. Sexual assault allegations are serious and should be treated as such no matter who the accused happens to be or what team he or she plays for.
Systemic issues like this one are part of the reason why it is so important for victim’s to have representation throughout the duration of their case. DC Student Defense has experience with these types of cases, and if you have been the victim of a sexual assault, we can be there to help you through the process. You deserve for someone to protect your rights as a victim and ensure that your case is handled both fairly and seriously.
Read more about Disciplinary Matters within Athletic Programs
These materials have been prepared by WGW for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.