In November, TMZ reported that a former Florida State University student had accused the school’s quarterback, Jameis Winston, of rape nearly a year ago. The accuser’s lawyer says that after she came forward the Tallahassee police tried to dissuade her from pressing charges, warning her that the city is “a big football town” that might not treat her warmly if she leveled these allegations. Indeed, since her charges became public, some Seminoles fans have floated conspiracy theories that a rival school or Heisman Trophy contender may have put the accuser up to it. Prosecutors, for their part, will hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon to announce whether they’ll go forward with the case.
Ultimately, Winston—whose DNA was found at the scene and who claims the sex was consensual—may not be charged. But the case has highlighted a disturbing and long-standing pattern in college football. At top football schools the sport is a major moneymaker, and many big-name universities (and law enforcement authorities in those jurisdictions) have too often shielded players accused of rape—even going so far as to smear and punish victims who speak out. Here’s a brief guide to college football’s sordid history of addressing sexual assault: