FSU president outlines plan for improving student-athlete behavior

After two Florida State football players were charged with misdemeanor battery only days apart last week, president John Thrasher put forth an outline of the university's plans for improving student-athlete behavior through education.

"When you have two things like this happen and you get national attention, you have to pay attention to it," Thrasher said in a 60-minute meeting with the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board Thursday.

Thrasher said FSU wants student-athletes to be required to take a course in social responsibilities, one that "would give them some additional background in consequences of actions. ... Understanding that we live in a social media world; everything you do is scrutinized."

Additionally, FSU has plans to add another position in its compliance department to oversee student-athlete development, Thrasher told the Democrat.

The university and athletic department also hope to encourage good behavior by bringing in positive outside influences, such as speakers and former players, to talk with the team about character, according to Thrasher.

In addition, Thrasher told the Democrat he wants to look at recruiting, particularly the background of incoming players. While that is something the coaching staff already does, "I think it's particularly important now that we do that. Just to take a look at, to reassure ourselves we are looking at all aspects of the background of those young people."

The meeting with the newspaper came a little over a week after freshman quarterback De'Andre Johnson was dismissed from the team after the state attorney's office released video showing him punching a woman in the face last month at a Tallahassee bar. A few days later, running back Dalvin Cook was suspended indefinitely after allegedly punching a 21-year-old woman in the face several times during an argument outside a bar last month.

Thrasher met with the FSU football team for about 20 minutes Monday.

He told the Democrat that he stood in front of the players and issued them a challenge: "Are there any leaders in here?" he shouted. "Are there any leaders in here?"

At first, Thrasher said, only about 10 stood up, but that changed as he moved toward the team and raised his voice.

"Every one of them stood up," Thrasher recounted to the Democrat. "And I said, 'Are you with me? Do you understand the consequences, the concerns? Are you going to help us get through this?' And every one of them said, 'Yes sir.' "

Thrasher said he also met with Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher, who "clearly understood the gravity of the situation."

Fisher, according to Thrasher, came into the meeting with an outline of some ideas he had, which the university plans to implement.

"He came in ready to go, which I appreciated," Thrasher told the Democrat. "Jimbo's an 'A' personality, that's why he's so successful. His motor is running 100 percent, all the time. It's always on go."

According to Thrasher, Fisher will not be judged solely on the basis of his team's behavior, though "behavior is important."

Besides performance on the football field, Thrasher also will evaluate Fisher based on the Seminoles' academic success and the number of players who graduate.

"Now, the graduation thing is a dilemma for a lot of universities, not just us," Thrasher told the Democrat, citing basketball schools like Duke and Kentucky, where athletes are often bound for the pros after two years.

"But I want them while they are here to get as much as a quality education as they can. And part of that is I think is [Fisher's] responsibility. And to ensure that, we are going to work with them to make sure that happens."