TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Florida State University benched Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston on Wednesday for the first half of Saturday’s game against Clemson after he shouted obscenities in the student union plaza, for which he later apologized.
Winston jumped atop a table in the student union courtyard on Tuesday and shouted an obscene sexual phrase that was promptly circulated on social media by several students.
”I just want to apologize to the university, to my coaches and to my teammates,” Winston told reporters on Wednesday at a hastily called news conference.
“That was a selfish act and that’s not how you do things around here,” he said. “It eats me alive that I did something like that. I can’t carry myself that way.”
The move by the university’s athletic officials comes as the National Football League is struggling with mounting criticism over its handling of several cases of domestic violence and other abuse by professional players.
Winston, 20, has been involved in a series of off-field incidents in recent months.
In December, Winston was cleared by a Florida state attorney of possible sexual assault charges after authorities determined there was insufficient evidence to charge him.
In April, Winston was issued a civil citation for shoplifting $32.72 worth of crab legs and crawfish from a Florida grocery store.
FSU interim President Garnett Stokes and Athletics Director Stan Wilcox issued a terse statement about Winston’s latest scrape.
“As the university’s most visible ambassadors, student-athletes at Florida State are expected to uphold at all times high standards of integrity and behavior that reflect well upon themselves, their families, coaches, teammates, the Department of Athletics at Florida State University,” said the statement.
“Student-athletes are expected to act in a way that reflects dignity and respect for others,” it added.
Winston, one of only two freshmen to win college football’s prestigious Heisman Trophy, led Florida State to the national championship in January. He passed for more than 4,000 yards and the team finished the season undefeated with a 14-0 record.
Reporting by Bill Cotterell; Editing by Bill Trott and Mohammad Zargham