Florida State Needs the NCAA

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This isn’t Lee Corso’s Seminoles…or is it?

By Kyle Magin

Have you checked in on Florida State University lately? Go ahead, Google the term ‘Florida State’ and see what comes up.

In the early morning hours on Monday, here are the top three search results I found:

  • Cook’s arrest forces FSU to confront its perception on SI.com
  • Florida State football reportedly bans players from bars after recent incidents on Fox News
  • FSU running back Dalvin Cook cited for mistreating puppies in 2014 on SB Nation

That’s a heaping helping of search returns no university wants associated with its name.

Numbers one and three deal directly with star FSU running back Dalvin Cook, who was arrested last week after allegedly punching a woman in a bar. He apparently also chains his pitbull puppies in a way that injures them to round out his reputation as a standup guy.

Number two deals with Cook indirectly, and also former FSU quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who was thrown off the team last week after video appeared of him punching a woman in a bar.

This comes to us from the same school that sheltered former star quarterback Jameis Winston as he dealt with the fallout of a rape allegation and, charmingly, uttering an outlandishly misogynistic comment while standing on a table in the school’s cafeteria.

FSU has a serious, systemic, program-wide issue with its players’ treatment of women.

That Johnson and Cook could be in the news for hitting women in bars within a week of one another is indicative, to me, of a lack of institutional control by Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher in Tallahassee.

Hey! You’ve heard that phrase before, right college football fans? ‘Lack of Institutional control’ is the term the NCAA likes to throw around when players are caught taking extra food/gas/housing money from boosters, always finding a free deal on tattoos and progressing toward a degree with classes in ‘tutor-written papers 101’ and ‘advanced third-grade math.’

When a program has demonstrated an inability to curb a certain behavior (in most cases anything that would threaten the NCAA’s sole domain on profiting off the talents of unpaid 18-22 year olds), the NCAA whacks it with a ‘loss of institutional’ control sanction and penalizes the school in anything from small monetary concessions to the loss of scholarships, postseason bans and forced resignations or firings.

One wonders when the pious protectors of profit may descend from their monastery in Indianapolis to address a real world problem, with real world victims, down there in Tallahassee.

So far, the backlash isn’t coming from the media. SI’s column—the top search result listed above—is a hand-wringy exercise in fretting over FSU’s brand ‘perception’ as a place for aspiring Chris Browns to hone their barroom hooks on coeds.

There’s not a lot of media concern for the victims of these alleged attacks or the environment around a successful football team that apparently makes its world-class athletes think it’s OK to bash women in full view of the public in an age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras. First–that sort of behavior has never been OK. But a confluence of factors old–athlete’s privilege, access to alcohol and women–seem to be amplified by new ones–multimillion dollar TV revenues and exploding ticket costs to make these guys feel untouchable.

It’s not a stretch to say that young men responding in that way—beating women—to their environment (FSU’s football team) means that environment is totally out-of-control. So where’s the NCAA?

Nowhere, so far as we can tell. For once, the NCAA has a chance to enact some punishments that could protect real people and create real change in a culture that desperately needs it (let’s not pretend that FSU is the only place where this happens.)

If the NCAA makes an example of Fisher and his entitled asses by suspending players, revoking scholarships or taking a shot where it really hurts—at the revenue FSU could receive in bowl/playoff appearances and other major televised games—you’d better believe programs would institute controls wherein players would think twice before raising their voices in any situation where a female is present, much less their hands.

It’s a hell of a thing to know we need to rely on the NCAA for some moral guidance in this situation. The organization is, again, a cartel profiting off the backs of unpaid labor.

Welcome to 2015.

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