Law Enforcement Extends Free Pass to Florida State Athletes?

Updated Oct 15, 2014

Diversity advocates know about the attitude of “White privilege.”

But do you know “football privilege.”

At Florida State University, it seems it’s one of the great equalizers in life, especially if you’re a football player in trouble.

Previously, I’ve talked about the Jameis Winston story and the investigation done by Walt Bogdanich and the New York Times. The paper exposed a system whereby the school and local law enforcement failed to properly investigate the rape charges against Winston.

Last week, the Times followed up by looking deeper at police and court records and found that Winston’s case was not an isolated one.

The Times reported: “The treatment of the Winston complaint was in keeping with the way the police on numerous occasions have soft-pedaled allegations of wrongdoing by Seminoles football players. From criminal mischief and motor-vehicle theft to domestic violence, arrests have been avoided, investigations have stalled and players have escaped serious consequences.”

“In a community whose self-image and economic well-being are so tightly bound to the fortunes of the nation’s top-ranked college football team, law enforcement officers are finely attuned to a suspect’s football connections. Those ties are cited repeatedly in police reports examined by The Times. What’s more, dozens of officers work second jobs directing traffic and providing security at home football games, and many express their devotion to the Seminoles on social media.”

“Certainly, Florida State football players have not always sidestepped prosecution. Over the last three years, at least nine players have been arrested on charges ranging from sexual assault to being an accessory to a fatal shooting.”

“But on other occasions, despite strong evidence, investigations have been delayed and sometimes derailed.”

OK, so some football players get prosecuted. Justice doesn’t take a knee for all FSU football players.

But the Times cites the example of Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, a wide receiver stopped by Tallahassee police in June riding a stolen scooter. Wilson claimed he borrowed it.

The Times reported the officer in question simply noted that Wilson was an FSU football player, and then filed his incident report: “Wilson was not arrested today because he cooperated, showed no signs of guilt and provided a plausible story that needs to be investigated.”

Magic words? FSU football player.

Is it just FSU? With all the money in sports, and with law enforcement in college communities often moonlighting as gamed day security, it’s not hard to imagine the Wilson story easily replicated in other campus towns.

It’s just an indication, how higher ed has lost its way when it comes to college sports and the king of them all, football.

Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race, culture and politics for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog) Like him at www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media ; twitter@emilamok