Florida State’s conspiracy of Winston silence has lot in common with Penn State

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Florida State’s administration has engaged in a pattern of conspiracy to ensure that Jameis Winston continues to play football for the Seminoles. When you really examine everything surrounding the Winston case, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that this is the most serious college football scandal since Penn State.

Indeed, in many ways it’s a more traditional conspiracy since everything Florida State has done has been designed to protect a single star player from the consequences of his off-field actions. At Penn State the conspiracy of silence was more general and less specific. Jerry Sandusky was protected because his association with the program would have had negative consequences if his misdeeds ever went public. Here Jameis Winston has been protected because he’s a star quarterback.

The NCAA arguably wasn’t adequately equipped to handle a case of Penn State’s magnitude. But the Jameis Winston case is a textbook example of what the NCAA was designed to prevent: an athletic department running roughshod over all notions of fair play and decency, a star athlete protected from the legal consequences of his actions because he made it more likely a team would win on the field. Of course, the NCAA is so impotent right now that it offers no real check on a university’s behavior. This isn’t lack of institutional control, it’s something even scarier: total institutional control. That’s why FSU has operated with such flagrant disregard for truth, justice, and athletic accountability. So let’s actually cut through all the crap and make a cogent case for a Florida State conspiracy.

Let’s start with last week’s report from FOX Sports that maps out how the details of the Tallahassee police investigation into Winston’s alleged rape were passed along to FSU police and then to the school’s athletic department, and how those details also fell into the hands of Winston’s attorney before investigators actually forwarded the report to the state attorney’s office.


This is potentially a criminal act on behalf of Florida State athletic department officials and the Tallahassee police. It hasn’t gotten enough attention because most people are too dumb to understand why this is such a big deal. So let me break it down for you.

First, someone at the Tallahassee police office provided a non-public investigative report to FSU police which then ended up in the Florida State athletic department. 

Second, this confidential investigative report detailing an alleged rape of a Florida State student was given to the defense attorney of another Florida State student to seemingly allow that student to more adequately defend himself against accusations of rape made by a fellow student. Did the Florida State athletic department aid one student in helping to cover up a potential crime committed against another student? If so, why did the athletic department do this? Perhaps because Jameis Winston is a star athlete and FSU administrators wanted to ensure he continued to play football for the university.

Okay, so what’s the benefit of sending that report to Winston’s attorney, you might be asking? It’s simple — Jameis Winston and his attorney then had the opportunity to craft a legal defense while knowing exactly what the other side had said before anyone from the Tallahassee police ever got around to actually asking them any questions. To put this into simplistic sports terms, this is the legal equivalent of knowing what plays your opponent would run before they ran them. Winston’s attorney obtained two identical affidavits from Winston’s roommates that said the sex was consensual. He refused to allow Winston to speak. Once he knew what his accuser was going to say, Winston’s team crafted a coordinated legal defense that created enough doubt to avoid its client being charged with a crime.

State attorney Willie Meggs told Fox Sports last week that he was handicapped in trying to conduct a proper investigation of the case. Meggs said he called attention to the fact that university officials apparently turned copies of the police report over to Winston’s attorney days before his office even knew the allegation existed.

“Then he starts preparing a defense before we even know there’s a case,” Meggs said. 

The state of Florida needs to conduct an investigation into how this report found its way to Winston’s attorney right now; it’s possible that criminal charges need to be brought in the matter. At a bare minimum, the public needs to know how a private investigative report ended up in the hands of a potential criminal defendant, allowing him to craft a defense before he was ever questioned by authorities.

What’s crystal clear is that from the moment this allegation was made, members of the FSU athletic department made a conscious decision to protect its star player. Whether Jimbo Fisher himself made this decision or if he’s just an idiot head coach incapable of comprehending the seriousness of his program’s conspiracy is unclear, but what’s readily apparent to anyone not wearing garnet and gold is that FSU was aided in their conspiracy by the incompetent rape investigation of the Tallahassee Police Department. As the New York Times and other media outlets have detailed, there was a willful decision made not to pursue this case. Go read this story about the Tallahassee police investigation. When you’re finished, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the police made a conscious decision not to pursue the case. As a result, any chance the victim had to make her case was lost.

As if that wasn’t enough, Florida State didn’t follow its own student handbook when it comes to dealing with allegations of sexual assault. It’s been almost two years since an FSU student alleged she was raped by Winston and FSU still hasn’t done anything. Right now Winston’s attorney, in a startingly brazen argument that relies upon the stupidity of the masses, is actually arguing that his client is being disadvantaged by how long FSU has taken to undertake a campus hearing into Winston’s alleged rape. Yes, the real victim here isn’t the actual victim, the woman who has waited almost two years for her side of the story to be heard by her school, it’s the football star who has benefited from a nearly two year lag between when he was accused of rape and when he answered questions about that rape. 

Why does Winston’s attorney not want this campus hearing to take place until after the season’s over? Because he knows if his client speaks he’s opening up himself to civil and potentially criminal repercussions. So far, Winston has refused to ever tell his side of the story. From a legal perspective, this is smart. Once he knew his accuser’s story thanks to the leaked investigative report, Winston’s attorney crafted a legal defense aided and abetted by the sworn testimonies of two of his teammates that the sexual encounter was consensual. So long as he never speaks, Winston’s never going to stand trial in a civil or criminal court. (He’s going to 100-percent settle this civil case for the same reason that his attorney doesn’t want him speaking in the FSU campus investigation: because his testimony under oath in a civil trial could be used against him as well.) If Winston doesn’t speak, and his accuser does speak, the judge empaneled to hear this case may well find the accuser’s story compelling enough to levy campus charges against Winston. If this happens before the end of the football season, then Winston’s sanctions could include being dismissed from school.

Of course, that would require FSU holding this hearing before the college football season’s over. Do you have any faith that Florida State’s going to decide this issue before then? Ha. By the time this case is resolved Winston’s going to be training for the NFL combine. The conspiracy will be complete, Winston will have avoided possible justice for potentially raping a fellow student and by the time he faces any consequences at all, he’ll be gone from the university. 

Everything that’s happened since this alleged rape — the crab legs theft, the investigation into selling autographs, BB gun battles, screaming inappropriate phrases on campus — all of that is small potatoes for Jimbo Fisher and the FSU athletic department. If you’ll conspire to cover up a rape investigation, you’ve already made your decision: The Seminoles aren’t going to penalize Jameis Winston no matter what he does off the field.

The lesson here is clear: If you tell a big lie long enough, eventually it can even lead to a championship.

Don’t believe me? Just look at Jameis Winston and Florida State.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.