Florida State University president backs decision to boot quarterback

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 07, 2015 3:35 PM

By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Florida State University's president said on Tuesday he fully supports head coach Jimbo Fisher's decision to dismiss De'Andre Johnson from the football team after video surfaced showing the 19-year-old freshman quarterback punching a woman in a bar.

Fisher took the action on Monday night after prosecutors released the June 24 surveillance video taken inside a Tallahassee nightclub.

"I fully support Coach Fisher's decisions to immediately suspend and subsequently dismiss De'Andre Johnson from the football team," Florida State President John Thrasher said in a statement.

"While it is always important to adhere to due process, having now seen the physical altercation captured on video, there is no question in my mind that Coach Fisher made the correct decisions."

Johnson was charged with misdemeanor battery for striking the 21-year-old woman, a Florida State student, and was indefinitely suspended from the team last month. He surrendered to Tallahassee police on June 30 and was released on $500 bond.

The woman suffered a back eye, swelling of her cheek and upper lip, and a small cut near the bridge of her nose. She said the altercation erupted after Johnson aggressively pushed past her while she was in line at the bar waiting for drinks.

ESPN.com quoted a source as saying Florida State officials had not seen the video of Johnson punching the woman until it was posted on the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper's website on Monday.

The case has parallels to that of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

The National Football League initially suspended Rice for two games last year for knocking his then-fiancée and now-wife unconscious in a New Jersey casino elevator. When surveillance video surfaced, Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Johnson's attorney, Jose Baez, said in a statement on Monday before the dismissal was announced that the highly touted quarterback was "extremely embarrassed" by the situation.

"While it is clear from the video that De'Andre Johnson was not the initial aggressor, his family wants to take the lead in helping him learn and grow from this experience," Baez said.

Florida State came under criticism last year for its handling of the team's former quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused by a woman of raping her while she was a student at the university but was never charged. Winston became the top overall pick in the NFL draft in April.

(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Will Dunham)