FSU president addresses team: Football a 'privilege, not a right'

ByMark Schlabach ESPN logo
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Florida State president John E. Thrasher met with the school's football team Monday, following a week in which one player was dismissed for punching a woman and another was indefinitely suspended for allegedly assaulting a different woman.

According to a statement released by Florida State, Thrasher met with Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher, his assistant coaches and their players Monday, and told them that playing football for FSU is a "privilege, not a right."

"In light of recent off-field incidents, I reiterated to our players that they simply cannot put themselves in situations that reflect poor behavior or cause harm to others," Thrasher said in the statement. "The actions of a few have the capacity to do serious damage to the reputation of our entire university. I told them their coaches, the Athletics administration and I will do all we can to support them and help them learn the values we expect them to uphold. But they will be held accountable for their actions."

On Friday, FSU indefinitely suspended sophomore running back Dalvin Cook, the team's leading rusher this past season, after he was charged with misdemeanor battery by the state attorney's office. A 21-year-old woman told Tallahassee police that Cook punched her several times during an argument outside Clyde's and Costello's bar in downtown Tallahassee on June 23.

Cook, 19, from Miami, turned himself in to the Leon County Jail on Friday night and was released on $500 bond. Cook has a July 30 arraignment scheduled at Leon County Courthouse.

The incident involving Cook allegedly occurred the night before former FSU quarterback De'Andre Johnson punched another 21-year-old woman in a different bar near the FSU campus.

FSU indefinitely suspended Johnson from the team after he was charged with misdemeanor assault on June 26, and then he was dismissed from the team on July 6 after the state attorney's office released a surveillance video showing Johnson punching the woman during an argument at the bar.

Fisher met with his players Saturday morning, according to sources.

"I also told the coaches what is expected of them," Thrasher said in Monday's statement. "The administration will support them in their efforts to provide mentors, teach life skills and do whatever is needed to help our student-athletes be good students and good citizens. Coach Fisher and Athletics Director Stan Wilcox are developing a strong plan to help our student-athletes understand the consequences of poor behavior."

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated reported Sunday that Tallahassee animal control officers cited Cook in July 2014 for the mistreatment of three pit bull puppies.

According to the report, an animal control officer found the dogs "tethered directly around the neck by a heavy chain." The report said the dogs were unable to move and the smaller puppies were choking. Cook was fined $275 for chaining the dogs in that manner and $275 for failing to provide them adequate shelter.

"As I've said before, the vast majority of our student-athletes are good students and positive role models who contribute to their university and their communities," Thrasher said. "But the actions of a very few are tarnishing the reputation of our outstanding institution. We need to do better, and I want to assure you changes will be made to address these concerns."

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