Jameis Winston not charged with sexual assault

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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not be charged with sexual assault, state attorney Willie Meggs announced Thursday.

“We have a duty as prosecution to only file those charges if we have a reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” Meggs said Thursday. “After reviewing all the events we did not feel we could meet that burden.”

Meggs’ investigation concluded three weeks after reports surfaced that a woman told police she was raped by Winston last winter. A sexual encounter did occur, Meggs said, though he said his investigation didn’t find enough evidence to prove it was not consensual.

Winston’s DNA matched evidence from the day of the incident, though Winston’s Tallahassee-based attorney, Tim Jansen, has argued the encounter between the FSU quarterback and the accuser was consensual. The accuser’s family has denied that claim, and in a statement released last month said the accuser was told by Tallahassee police she would be “raked over the coals” for accusing an FSU player of rape.

Meggs stopped short of criticizing the Tallahassee Police Department for not initially pursuing the case, though said some things would’ve been easier for him had he been able to conduct his investigation last December or January, as opposed to a year after the incident.

“Obviously it would’ve been better if it had been handled a little different, a little earlier,” Meggs said. “But hindsight’s always 20/20.”

A search warrant was released to the public prior to Meggs’ announcement, in which details of the accusation are revealed (via the Associated Press):

In the warrant, the alleged victim told police she and friends had five to six shots at Potbellys and her “memory is very broken from that point forward.” She said she remembered being in a cab with a “non-descript” black man and going into an apartment where she was raped.

The alleged assault took place about a year ago. The woman didn’t identify Winston, who is black, until about a month later.

The warrant said she tried to fight the man off, and at some point, another man came into the room and told him to stop. But the two went into a bathroom “where he completed the act.”

Her next memory was of the suspect dressing her, putting her on a scooter and dropping her off at a campus intersection. She said she had no idea where the alleged assault took place.

Meggs said the accuser had some trouble remembering the events of the evening, though her BAC was only .04 when it was taken and no evidence of drugs were found in the accuser’s system.

Meggs’ investigation took so long because some unknown DNA was found, later discovered to be from the accuser’s boyfriend. That DNA was not associated with the accuser’s complaint. Meggs also added he never considered charging the accuser with filing a false report.

As for the timeline of Meggs’ investigation, it came to a conclusion two days before Winston and FSU play in the ACC Championship and four days before Heisman ballots are due. Meggs, though, said he never felt compelled to conclude his investigation to fit a timeline for Florida State football.

“There was no pressure,” Meggs said. “I have not consulted with the football schedule or who the starting quarterback might be or might not be.”

UPDATE: Florida State, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher and the accuser’s family released statements after Meggs’ press conference, and are both below.

From the accuser’s family and attorney, Patricia Carroll of Dade City, Fla.:

“The victim and her family appreciate the State Attorney’s efforts in attempting to conduct a proper investigation after an inordinate delay by the Tallahassee Police Department.

“The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice.

“The victim has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.”

From Florida State president Dr. Eric Barron:

“Recent weeks have provided a painful lesson, as we have witnessed harmful speculation and inappropriate conjecture about this situation and the individuals involved. As a result, we have all been hurt. A respect for the principle of due process is essential to the integrity of our community. Our commitment to each and every one of our students is unwavering and will remain our priority.”

From Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher:

“As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear that the State’s Attorney’s Office exonerated Jameis in the matter. I’m not going to answer any questions about the situation, but I would like to point out that our community and our university are blessed to have really good people in place to review matters like this. I know Jameis is pleased he can focus on being a student at a great university and he’s excited about helping our team achieve its goals this year. Right now, we’re all looking forward to what we have in front of us on Saturday.

Note: Winston was not actually exonerated, as Fisher’s statement reads. Meggs only determined there was not enough evidence to pursue a trial against him.

Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, said he was confident from “day one” that his client would not be charged:

Foot injury could sideline Auburn’s Tashawn Manning for rest of spring

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After kicking cancer’s ass, this latest health issue hardly qualifies as a big deal.  Still, it’s a thing.

Tashawn Manning has been battling an unspecified foot injury of late, which has limited the defensive tackle’s availability for most of the first two-thirds of Auburn’s spring practice sessions.  With just five practices remaining, Manning could very well be sidelined for al of them.

“The problem is this is Day 9 and Saturday will be Day 11, so there’s a probability” that the player will not see the field for what remains of spring practice, Manning’s position coach, Rodney Garner, said according to al.com.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Manning, then an Auburn verbal commit, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  In July of last year, he was finished with chemotherapy and declared cancer-free.

The defensive lineman didn’t play at all last season, instead taking online classes as he built up his strength as well as his weight after losing more than 60 pounds because of the chemo.  In January, he enrolled at AU and, two months later, was cleared to participate in the spring.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.