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Jameis Winston's teammates face conduct hearing at FSU

The ongoing saga involving Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston and months-old sexual assault allegations will continue today with a university conduct hearing for two of his teammates.

The latest step centers on whether Chris Casher and Ronald Darby broke university rules in witnessing the sexual encounter between Winston and a woman in December 2012, confirmed Baine Kerr, one of the accuser's attorneys, Monday evening.

Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and his accuser were both invited to testify at the hearing, as required under Title IX.

Casher and Darby admitted to watching the encounter, through sworn affidavits given to investigators. Casher later told police that he recorded part of the incident on his phone but deleted it.

"We expect that it will be a full and fair hearing, conducted in compliance with federal law," Kerr said. "We don't see how sanctioning these individuals can be avoided, given the fact that they essentially admitted responsibility."

FSU did not respond to a request for comment.

Today's hearing will be the latest step in a complicated case. In December, the State Attorney's Office declined to press criminal charges against Winston, who has said the encounter was consensual.

FSU held a student conduct meeting in January for Winston, Casher and Darby. Deadspin reported that Winston declined to cooperate, so FSU could not charge him with a possible conduct violation.

In February, FSU hired a Jacksonville-based law firm, McGuireWoods LLP, to represent the school "with respect to an expected case arising under Title IX," according to a contract obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. FSU has not yet been billed for those services, a school spokesman said late Monday, but hourly rates for the outside legal counsel top out at $450.

A few weeks after FSU contracted McGuireWoods, Winston's accuser filed a formal Title IX complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, which launched a formal investigation last month. More than 50 other colleges are also under federal review.

FSU has said that it followed the law and that its victim advocacy program could serve as a national model, based on recent federal guidelines.

Casher, a defensive lineman, recorded 25 tackles and two sacks as a redshirt freshman last season. Darby, the 2012 ACC defensive rookie of the year, started nine games at defensive back and had two interceptions last fall.

FSU's Stewart wins ACC baseball honor

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Florida State's DJ Stewart was named ACC baseball player of the year as the all-conference teams were announced Monday.

Stewart, a sophomore outfielder, is the seventh Seminole to win the award.

Seminoles named to the first team: first baseman John Nogowski, third baseman Jose Brizuela and pitcher Luke Weaver. Designated hitter/utility player Josh Delph and pitcher Gage Smith made the third team.

Stewart finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in nine offensive categories while leading in average (.362), on-base percentage (.478) and slugging percentage (.588) and tied in RBI (47) and doubles (19).

Chris Diaz of Miami and Nathan Kirby of Virginia were named pitchers of the year, Zack Collins of Miami was freshman of the year and Brian O'Connor of Virginia was coach of the year.

SEC football schedules: The conference announced the rotating non-division football opponents for each team through 2025. Florida's opponent this season had already been announced as Alabama. The rest of Florida's non-division schedule: 2015 — Ole Miss; 2016 — at Arkansas; 2017 — Texas A&M; 2018 — at Mississippi State; 2019 — Auburn; 2020 — at Ole Miss; 2021— Alabama; 2022 — at Texas A&M; 2023 — Arkansas; 2024 — at Auburn; 2025 — Mississippi State. LSU will continue to be UF's annual non-division opponent.

More football: Notre Dame is selling rolls of grass from its stadium to the public as it prepares to install an artificial surface. The school said it is selling 2-foot-by-5-foot sections of grass from Notre Dame Stadium for $149.95, which includes two-day shipping and a certificate of authenticity. Notre Dame announced last month it was switching to FieldTurf because of problems with the playing surface in recent seasons. … A felony theft charge against Nebraska linebacker Josh Banderas was dismissed. Lancaster County (Neb.) Attorney Joe Kelly said Banderas will enter a pre-trial diversion program rather than face charges in the theft of seven bicycles last week.

Florida women lose semifinal: Florida lost in the semifinals of the NCAA women's tennis tournament, 4-0, to UCLA. Kourtney Keegan, at No. 6, was the only Gator to take her singles match to a third set before UCLA's Kaitlin Ray clinched the match, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Keegan and Seminole's Alexandra Cercone lost at No. 1 doubles. Florida, the No. 8 seed, finished 23-5. Today No. 5 UCLA (26-2) faces No. 7 North Carolina (29-5), which defeated Stanford 4-3, for the title.

Tampa lacrosse honors: Two Spartans were named to the Division II All-America team. Connor Whipple, a freshman and Tampa native, was named to the second team and sophomore Jake Rooney was named to the third team. Tampa's Marty Heyn earned honorable mention.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter @MBakerTBTimes.

Jameis Winston's teammates face conduct hearing at FSU 05/19/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2014 10:20pm]

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