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Heisman Money Might Stymie FSU’s Title IX-Required Rape Investigation

Heisman Money Might Stymie FSU’s Title IX-Required Rape Investigation

By Sarah Belton, Cartwright-Baron Attorney

A 2013 Heisman trophy win for Jameis Winston was always going to be historic.  On Saturday, when 19-year-old Winston received the 79th Heisman trophy, he became the youngest player ever to win the award. 

But Winston’s win and his ongoing football season – he will lead FSU in the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn in Pasadena on January 6 – remain linked to the allegations of sexual assault stemming from a December 7, 2012 incident.  Although much of the media attention has focused on the criminal investigation by police, not as much attention has been placed on the FSU’s actions – or lack thereof.  The female student’s attorney has called for the Florida Attorney General to investigate.  And we should continue to inquire about whether FSU is following through on the school’s obligations under federal law.

Amid the revelry from football victories and awards, the status of FSU’s required Title IX investigation remains uncertain.  Just weeks ago – close to a year from the sexual assault – the school confirmed that a Title IX investigation existed.   As Public Justice previously noted, there are many questions about FSU’s handling of this situation.  Given the confidential nature of the results of Title IX investigations, the public may never have a clear picture of FSU’s role.

There is, however, no doubt that the Heisman trophy win brings immense value to FSU.  Just a few years ago, Baylor University estimated that the Heisman trophy won by Robert Griffin III brought in an extra $250 million in donations, ticket sales, licensing fees, and other deals. 

Dollar signs are a powerful motivator.   And even though the young woman has not backed down, one has to wonder if she hasn’t already lost to FSU’s potential for millions.