Scammell Straight Up: UF sends strong message

As I sat down to write a different article about our Florida Gators and UF athletics, I was suddenly confronted with the news that Mr. Treon Harris, the possible starting quarterback for UF this week against LSU, was under investigation for an alleged on-campus sexual assault.  As a result of these allegations, the University of Florida has immediately suspended Mr. Harris indefinitely while the incident is investigated.

I have always been proud to wear the orange and blue and hold degrees from University of Florida.  However, today I have never been more proud of my alma mater.

While, I do not know any of the particulars of the allegations against Mr. Harris, I just know that a young woman has accused him of something very serious.  Sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes anyone can be accused of or commit.  It would not be fair or ethical to either Mr. Harris or the accuser to have this drama play out on Sportscenter or any other public venue.

By suspending Mr. Harris, the University has sent a strong and clear message; the University of Florida takes sexual assault seriously and the integrity of their student-athletes and the University of Florida matter; however, it is simply not in the way most people will think.

Suspending Mr. Harris at this point is not a punishment; it is the only way to protect him, the accuser, and the University.  In this media filled age, it is the only way to insure the dignity of the process for both him and the accuser.  Mr. Harris may indeed still have a bright future at the University of Florida; however, these serious allegations need to be resolved before he steps back out to the practice field.  Otherwise, he is simply a distraction to the team and the University.  Mr. Harris has rights and he needs to concentrate his energy on giving these allegations his full and undivided attention.

I don’t want to have our coach awkwardly trying to answer legal questions or dodging pointed questions about how and when a suspension might take place.  Doing something like that would be an undignified sham on the words truth and justice.  I don’t want the focus on football or our player; I want it on what happened.  I want my University to handle things like this the right way.  I don’t want to see our fan base calling this young woman a cleat chaser or some other undignified name because no one knows anything at this point.

However, there is simply no way that he could be fully invested in his defense and clearing his name if he has to worry about identifying a corner blitz against LSU.  He needs to concentrate on his defense and how to clear his name or reasonably explain the circumstances.  That is the greatest service that Mr. Harris could do for himself, his teammates and the University of Florida.

Playing football with these allegations would not be in his or the University of Florida’s best interest.  Allowing him to play with these allegations swirling around simply sends the wrong message to Mr. Harris, the victim, and the public at large; it says that the allegations are secondary to the game of football.  Is that the message that any one of us wants to send?

Additionally, the victim’s allegations need to be investigated and handled by those with the sworn duty to do so.  These allegations need to be handled with respect and dignity because it’s not about football at this point.  It is about what happened between Mr. Harris and the victim and that’s where the focus should be.  The focus should always be on finding out as best as they can what happened between the victim and Mr. Harris.  It should not be on whether or not Mr. Harris should be suspended until he is arrested or charged.

Our fan base should not be praying for a misdemeanor.  They should be cheering for the truth to come out, good or bad.

I never wanted to have one of my school’s student-athletes have to face something like this; however, the University of Florida found itself where no school wants to be and still rose to the occasion.  We did not hoist a crystal trophy today; instead we elevated justice and the dignity of the process above sport.

Sadly, as we have seen in the recent past, some people in power laugh and joke through a press conference when talking about an alleged sexual assault.  So while I sit here and congratulate the University of Florida, I still feel the anger I did last fall when others in power at Florida State University did nothing when a young woman came to them with an allegation in December 2012.

As I sit here today, I do not know what happened that night and neither does anyone else but the people involved.  However, the biggest failure in that case for both the accuser and the accused was that neither was afforded the dignity of the process by the people in power around them.  They will never be able to truly move past this because a group of powerful people were either too incompetent to do their jobs, or simply, chose not to do their jobs.

A small cabal of people had the power and the responsibility to do what they took a sworn oath to do.  Those people failed to do what was required and necessary by design or by ignorance.  I do not know which option they followed in that tragic tale, but neither gives me comfort.

The greatest indignation I have is not for Mr. Winston; it was for the members of the Tallahassee Police Department because everyone involved was denied the dignity of the process and the power of the truth.  Even today, all the main law enforcement characters from that morality play labor on as if there were no consequences for their stunning lack of either intelligence or character.  I don’t know what happened that night, but the people in power that should have protected the rights of both the accused and the accuser did not do what they should have done.

While I love college sports, beyond the fields of play, issues exist that dwarf these contests.  I give kudos to the people in power at the University of Florida for recognizing the truly progressive idea that football is merely a game played for the enjoyment of fans.  I commend the University of Florida for setting a shining example for how to handle a case like this; perhaps other Universities should pay attention.  However, I am not going to hold my breath because at some places the ONLY thing that matters is winning.

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Christopher has followed Gator football since he stepped on campus in January 1994. After getting degrees from the University of Florida in 1997 he attended law school at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and graduated in 2000. He currently owns a construction business with his father and two brothers and practices law in Stuart, Florida. He brings plenty of experience to his writing as an arm chair quarterback and professional second-guesser with the extraordinary ability of hindsight. Christopher enjoys his free time reading, writing, and spending time with friends and family. Follow him on twitter @clscammell.


  1. I definitely see where you’re coming from and agree with your reasoning for feeling how you feel. My only issue is, if this young man is innocent – he has been penalized and forced to miss a game based on a lie? So technically every single time someone makes these accusations the player must suffer. There need to also be ramification for those that “cry wolf” in these instances.

    • That is not the stage we are at here. No one is convicting Treon Harris. He is innocent until proven guilty, we know nothing; the University is simply saying that Mr. Harris needs to attend to this matter before he should worry about football. Losing time away from the team could be seen as a punishment; but the truth is Mr. Harris needs to concentrate on this and the football team needs to concentrate on football.

      As far as alleged victims that “cry wolf”, we should let the police and prosecutors do their jobs and I am sure that if the alleged victim has lied then people in power should take appropriate measures. However. we are not at that point in the process.

  2. You go from” I just know that a young woman has accused him of something very serious.” to ” to Mr. Harris, the victim”, You used the word victim several times, I feel “accuser” might be more appropriate.

    • You’re absolutely right; but I use the term victim in a generic sense. It is not a reflection on whether I think Mr. Harris is guilty or innocent.

  3. I disagree with Machen saying “We don’t tolerate sexual assault” and the notice of suspention in same statement… that basically indictes him. Dont get me wrong, throw away the key if he did anything close. I know now a days the wording has to be strong, but on the slight chance he is fully cleared this seems close to defamation. Have muschamp come out and say the football program is removing Harris from all team activities till the process plays out… there is no way he should be playing, obviously. I am surprised nobody is questioning the statement from this angle. If he is guilty of this this, lock him up! And thoughts go out to the girl involved. If Harris is not guilty of anything, not even the wrong-place-wrong-time deal, then he is owed a huge apology from the school for that statement.

  4. The President did the abolute right thing and the only thing that could have been done. College sports, pro sports have let this kind of stuff linger for years. Unfortunately, college and pro sports accountability in the past has placed us in a position that we have no choice but to be accountable and be the role modle in responce around accusations this serious. Unless the girl is out of her mind, too hammered to remember, or some kind of pathological liar I find it hard to find our player even remotely involved in this situation as acceptable. The way people are viewing sexual assaults is finally changing. I gotta tell ya, people are fed up with kids actions (I’m not indicting Treon) merely saying, in general terms that what is right is slowly taking back the landscape. Winning isn’t worth the discrace any more. People are losing interest in even attending some venues, people are tired of the thuggery. If it keeps up, pro sports and college venues will be reduced to family members in the stands all by themselves. The losers are ruining it for the college and pro atheletes out there making a difference. Besides the direspect of abusing women it’s a disgrace to the colleges these kids attend. My hat is off to our president. I hope and pray that Treon is exonerated of all charges and an explanation and statement of innocense is forthcoming. One cool thing in this melee…the media is commending the UF administration for it’s zero tolerance posture on this…Go Gators.