Jameis Winston Shoplifiting Citation Shows Flaw in Unlimited Meal Ruling

Jameis Winston
With the remnants of the highly publicized sexual assault case still lingering, Jameis Winston has shown that he does not have enough awareness to function properly as a student-athlete and needs to improve on his decision-making and judgement. The Florida State quarterback has been cited for shoplifting at a local super market in Florida. The regional supermarket “Publix” accuses the Heisman award winner for stealing crab legs from the market. The Florida State’s baseball team will be suspending Winston as well as issue community service. This incident is only two weeks after the NCAA committee approved a meal plan allowing its student-athletes unlimited access to meals and snacks on-campus.

The NCAA came to a decision on pushing the issue after remarks were made by UConn basketball player Shabazz Napier of nights going without food. During the school’s March Madness Championship celebration, the soon-to-be NBA player spoke about going to bed hungry. The reaction from the social media and the news cycles came almost instantly and pressure was immediately put on NCAA president Mark Emmert and its committee for a response. The NCAA were obligated to push and approve a new measure allowing student-athletes access to meals and snacks with no restrictions. While this measure has been met with praise by members of the media, this is not typical from the committee as their decisions are  not usually met by fanfare.

The NCAA has been involved in many unpopular decisions. Suspensions have been issued for improper benefits and for illegal financial gains from player’s own name, yet there seems to be hesitation by the NCAA to act when the student-athlete brings in not only viewership, but sponsors and financial gains for the programs. This was evident in 2010 when the NCAA discovered Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was among five players receiving improper benefits. A suspension was in place for five games, however it would not include the Sugar Bowl game in which featured Ohio State the following week. It is believed by many that this decision to not suspend the players for the games was due to sponsorship commitments and target rating points. Viewership and profit was and still is an obvious priority for the NCAA and there is no fair base of reference when disciplinary matters are concerned.

As the NCAA is complied to move forward to assist student-athletes with basic needs, its committee remains complacent unless pushed to change. The NCAA appears to only have the capability to listen to their student-athletes if they have a microphone on live television after a championship game. The lack of communication between the committee and its student-athletes is very concerning. Is a meal plan the best decision to make if a star quarterback such as Jameis Winston still has a need to steal food? Although the new measure does not take place until August 1, many schools are taking initiatives and allowing its student-athletes subsidiary snacks in the meantime. While crab legs are most likely not on the school campus menu, it still no excuse for Winston and the young Seminole acted very “shellfish”.

Commentary by Hector Carrion

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