Florida State receiver Warren Thompson alleged Thursday that he has been “lied to multiple times” about safety issues during preseason camp, jeopardizing his health as the Seminoles move toward a football season in the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been shown to myself and the rest, that our leadership is based off an ‘I' mentality with them only worried about their own future rather than their own athletes,” Thompson wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “I have been ridiculed about speaking up regarding this issue and it needs to be addressed for myself to safely continue the season.”
Thompson, an Armwood High alumnus, said he wants to play for FSU this season, but the “lies from our leaders have backed myself into (a) corner putting my overall well being in jeopardy. The neglect to respond to this issue is very concerning and why I’ve (drawn) attention to it.”
Although his social media posts were serious, they also were vague. He did not mention the coronavirus specifically, nor did he mention any specific things FSU officials said or did.
Thompson’s post came the morning after fellow receiver D.J. Matthews tweeted that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Matthews deleted the tweet a few minutes later.
First-year coach Mike Norvell said he doesn’t know what lies Thompson alleges but said the two spoke Wednesday night with “all of the correct and relevant information of where we are.”
Norvell said he didn’t hear about Thompson’s post until he was walking off the field after Thursday morning’s practice. He called it “disappointing.”
“I will say that there are some aspects of what I heard that are untrue,” Norvell said. “And at the end of the day I stand by the transparency that we’ve had.”
So do many of his players. Star defensive lineman Marvin Wilson, defensive back Asante Samuel and offensive lineman Brady Scott were among the players who spoke out Thursday in support of FSU’s protocols.
“I honestly feel like the FSU coaching staff and training staff, they’re both doing everything in their power to make sure that we’re safe and to make sure that we’re doing the things necessary in order to play football this year,” defensive back Jaiden Lars-Woodbey said.
But Thompson’s sentiment found supporters on the team, too. Matthews and another receiver, star Tamorrion Terry, both amplified Thompson’s message with exclamation points.
FSU has not publicly released the number of positive cases in athletics, citing privacy laws. Norvell declined to say how many players missed Thursday’s practice because of a positive test or because they were quarantined after being exposed to someone who tested positive.
ESPN reported that the “boiling point” came Tuesday when Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted a roundtable discussion on college sports at FSU. Athletic director David Coburn said then that FSU is testing weekly. Norvell said Thursday that the Seminoles tested four times during the summer, with another scheduled Thursday. FSU began voluntary workouts June 1.
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Thompson’s mother, Cherokee Grace-Thompson, said the roundtable discussion was when “things fell apart.” Norvell said FSU held a team meeting that night to discuss everything related to COVID-19, including the program’s protocols and procedures.
“That was one of the questions that was brought up by one of our players after the press conference the other day, when it was brought up about the weekly tests,” Norvell said.
Norvell reiterated Thursday that football is optional. Two players, defensive linemen Dennis Briggs and Jamarcus Chatman, have both opted out because of coronavirus concerns.
Thompson’s mom said he doesn’t plan to follow them.
“He wanted to play,” Grace-Thompson said. “But the precautions have got to be taken more seriously, meaning on players and coaches…
“My son is freaking out because he’s scared.”
Thursday’s development is the second major, trust-related incident since FSU hired Norvell away from Memphis after the end of the 2019 regular season.
In June, star defensive lineman Marvin Wilson threatened a player boycott after Norvell exaggerated comments he made about speaking with individual players about social issues following the death of George Floyd. Norvell apologized, and the issue was quickly resolved.
Thompson, a redshirt sophomore, was a four-star recruit and one of the first Armwood players ever to sign with the ‘Noles. He appeared in six games last season, recording six catches for 91 yards. He was away from the team at the end of the year for personal reasons.