Poor Decision Making & Ineffective Leadership at FSU

Is anybody responsible for all the mistakes that have been made? Is anybody in charge at FSU that has any concern for student athletes or alleged victims of sexual assault above their own perceived reputations? How has all this happened without anyone in the administration being held responsible?

Who is requiring Jameis Winston to undergo a public trial two years after whatever transpired? Those making decisions at FSU have never raised a public objection to the unfairness of requiring Jameis to participate in this when by all accounts the entire procedure is inconsistent with established FSU policy and procedures.

Why hasn’t anyone in the FSU administration simply stated the obvious? This is an effort by self-promoting lawyers to create adverse publicity for Jameis so the lawyers can attempt to extract a settlement from Jameis or from FSU for a very likely meritless claim. These lawyers will never sue him civilly because the alleged victim would then have to face cross examination, which apparently is not allowed in this student code violation hearing.

The fact that it is manifestly unfair to Jameis has heard not a word of protest from anyone in the administration at FSU. Those who claim they are in charge appear too intimidated to observe that this charade is being pumped up by a few media hacks and ESPN. And to add to the unfairness, the complainant’s lawyer is demanding this take place while the football season is ongoing. It is astonishing that FSU is acquiescing to that demand.

The interim president and the athletic director dreamed up a new procedure of naming three Supreme Court judges and requiring Jameis to pick who he didn’t want. How fair is that to a student athlete to have to offend a former Florida Supreme Court justice? The two that didn’t get selected have been embarrassed by being rejected. It appears the University then made a selection from the two remaining judges, which added another slight to the justice not selected. The procedure is compelling evidence of idiotic decision making and incompetence.

The celebration of the National Championship was mishandled in so many ways that it became an embarrassment to all. It was planned, postponed, and then continued again. When it was finally held they had loud speakers that didn’t work and an athletic director that failed to consider needed parking so families walked as much as a half mile to get to the stadium. After the celebration people were jammed in like cattle in holding pens under the stadium waiting to get on the field. It was mismanaged at every level.

The interim president and the athletic director made the decision to suspend Jameis for one-half of the Clemson game, which appeared to be a response to media demands for punishment, regardless of fault. Anxious to preserve their reputations in academia, they shot from the hip with a punishment they thought would appease the media. It didn’t.

Following this rapid fire half-game suspension decision, the most unfair decision to Jameis followed at 11:00 p.m. Friday night before the Notre Dame game. The interim president and the athletic director released an astonishing press release. The press release read that they had decided “to not play him for the entire game against Clemson.” Perhaps not respectfully stated here, but they don’t decide who plays in a football game. Coach Fisher decides. They only decide who may be suspended. The fact they didn’t know the difference is revealing.

This late Friday night decision was very unfair to Coach Fisher and the entire football team and staff. The game plan had to be dumped. It was so late in happening that Jameis’ uniform was placed in his locker the evening before the Clemson game, and he put it on the next day like he should have done. The embarrassment that followed to both Jameis and Coach Fisher was directly and solely the fault of the interim president and the athletic director. The consensus view is they were responding to perceived media pressure to show how tough they could be so they enhanced the suspension to a full game. This almost caused the team to lose the game.

The explanation that they had discovered additional facts that supported the decision was viewed by virtually everyone as untrue. There was never a public apology from either of them for any of this. Indeed as to every other mismanaged fiasco they managed to facilitate, they always remained silent in the aftermath.

The logo change, apparently driven by Nike, was passively allowed by these same people to become another embarrassment. They should have told Nike “hell no, we are not changing anything.” The change appears to be an unneeded cost to the University. To this day no explanation has been offered why this change was needed. There have been lots of rumors, but no official statement from anyone at FSU. Yet again, silence after what appears to be repeated poor decision making is the norm.

An additional expense has been incurred because someone in the athletic department ordered the wrong color for numbers on the football jerseys. Normally embarrassing enough, but when added to everything else it seems inexcusable.

A New York Times reporter leaked a story to ESPN rehashing what had been written previously. In addition, the story was factually untrue in more than one instance and consisted of mostly sensationalized trite nonsense. The article (that did not get published until the Sunday after the game) was released on Friday night before the Notre Dame game to spin up the sports casters on ESPN (when they were not pumping up the new low-definition SEC network).

The sleazy reporter that wrote this article released it in a dishonest way. How could the athletic director and the interim president ignore what he had done? That Saturday morning they should have released a blistering condemnation of him and the New York Times. But as usual, silence was the response. The athletic director appeared anxious to be on the field at half time of the Notre Dame game with three NFL hall of fame football players who played at FSU. He did nothing but stand beside them having his name announced with theirs by the public address announcer. Perhaps this observation is too blunt, but why was he there?

The incompetence all of this represents has caused enormous damage to the University. Heads should roll, but in the time-honored tradition of academia, nothing will happen. They will have meetings and debriefings and internal suggestions and everyone will keep their job. If Jameis’ life is irreparably harmed, no problem, he is just a student and students have no safe jobs or tenure. Make no mistake about it though; the student athletes see what has transpired and what will happen when a “victim” screams, however baseless the scream may be. They see that due process, procedural fairness, and any desire to protect the student athlete from phony accusations may not follow. This is the very serious problem that has been created by the interim president and the athletic director. By the way, where were the FSU Trustees while all this has been going on?

A trip of a lifetime for the players who won the National Championship never happened because the athletic director and the interim president completely mishandled it. How in the world did this happen? But again, not a word of explanation or even an apology. I do not believe any other university has ever screwed up the opportunity for their students to see the President of the United States as has customarily happened with every National Championship football team.

The reality is we have a superstar football coach and terrific student athletes, but an inept athletic director and a very weak interim president. The athletic director and the interim president have done great damage to FSU, but even more important, they have betrayed basic fairness to a student athlete by putting their perceived “national reputations” ahead of fundamental fairness to him.

This miserable disaster is now going to be dropped on Mr. Thrasher’s desk. He didn’t deserve it, just like Jameis didn’t deserve what is happening to him. He didn’t prevent this hearing from taking place two years ago and he wasn’t in charge of the Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of the complaint. There is no good solution save firing everyone involved, and even that will not make up for what they have done to Jameis. It would, however, be a good start. Jameis has made the University millions, which apparently is not enough to grant him the basic protections afforded any other student. The experimental show trial the interim president and the athletic director dreamed up should be canceled. The alleged victim’s self-promoting lawyers should be told to pursue her claim in a court of law. But that would require the interim president and the athletic director to put aside their preoccupations with how they appear to the media and their academic peers and afford Jameis his basic student rights and due process.

Post Script: In the Tallahassee Democrat headline of November 6: The alleged victim’s lawyer announces when the show trial will start. No announcement from the FSU interim president or the athletic director.

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