Jonnu Smith won’t take the field again for Florida International, and the reason why is quite disturbing.
According to the Miami Herald, Smith sustained severe burns to his head, neck, back, shoulder and arm after his pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on the tight end on Halloween. The woman, who is five months pregnant, has been charged with aggravated battery.
An affidavit stated that the girlfriend, Mary Gaspar, was upset over how much attention was being paid to her by Smith. From the Herald:
The two argued through the day over the attention Smith was paying her and their relationship. While in Smith’s dorm room and “feeling extremely emotional and stressed,” she told police, she boiled a pot of water. Then, she walked over to Smith and poured it on him.
When Smith didn’t react strongly enough for her, she started hitting him with her open hands, she told police.
Smith did not play in the Nov. 5 loss to Western Kentucky, and has since been ruled out for the remainder of the season because of the burns. He has yet to use his redshirt so he could return next season as a fifth-year senior, although it’s expected he’ll still be a part of the 2017 NFL draft.
Smith is currently second on the team in receptions (39), receiving yards (441) and receiving touchdowns (three). He will finish his FIU career third all-time in receiving touchdowns (17), and fifth in both catches (175) and yards (1,936).
Exposure is everything in today’s college football landscape. Unfortunately for the players at Florida International University, the school’s decision makers don’t feel the same way.
FIU and the Miami Herald are caught in a little tiff.
The Herald is the only news agency in the area which employs a beat writer to cover FIU athletics. In the infinite wisdom of those making decisions at FIU, they denied access to the Herald’s beat writer, David J. Neal, for the Panthers’ season-opener against Bethune-Cookman.
“It’s unprecedented for any local team to refuse to credential our beat reporter without reason,” Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez said. “The team does not get to choose who covers the program.”
The newspaper decided not cover the game at all after FIU denied the credential.
“We’re very disappointed the Herald has decided on this course,” Sandra Gonzalez-Levy, FIU’s senior vice president for external relations, said. “Credentials were given to other reporters. We regret that this is the Herald’s choice.”
FIU never provided a reason why Neal’s credential was denied.
It’s simply another misstep for a football program has been in a downward spiral since it fired Mario Cristobal. During Cristobal’s tenure the coach led the Panthers to two bowl games before he was unceremoniously dismissed. The team then struggled to find any coaching candidates that were interested in the vacant position. The team eventually hired Ron Turner, who finished with an 1-11 record during his first season.
Furthermore, the people hurt by this decision are the players. They don’t get the exposure they deserve for the work they’ve done. And the community doesn’t have the opportunity to read about a program the newspaper is willing to support.