University of Florida releases statement following bias accusations


The University of Florida came under fire on Friday after ESPN released a bombshell report regarding former Florida quarterback Treon Harris and current wide receiver Antonio Callaway. According to Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne, Harris and Callaway were accused in December 2015 of sexual assault by a female University of Florida student. The accuser has chosen to boycott the school's Title IX hearing due to the university appointing a Florida football booster to adjudicate the case.

ESPN reported that the booster, Jake Schickel, is a Scholarship Club donor to Florida Football Boosters, which requires annual contributions of $4,800 to $8,599, according to a 2014-15 Year In Review program published by the UF athletics department.

On Friday afternoon, the university released a statement regarding the appointment of Schickel to the hearing. The statement was obtained by Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times.

"The University of Florida is prohibited to comment on the existence or substance of student disciplinary matters under state and federal law.

However, I can tell you that our student conduct process may be handled by a hearing officer, who could be a university employee or an outside professional, or by a committee of faculty and students.

Any hearing officer and all committee members are trained and vetted for their impartiality. A hearing officer or committee member would not be disqualified or lack objectivity simply because he or she had been a student athlete decades earlier or purchases athletic tickets as more than 90,000 people do each year."

ESPN also found documents that showed Schickel is also a 3-Point Club donor to Florida basketball, which requires annual contributions of $2,000 to $4,999. While UF has a point in saying former students and athletes and ticket buyers can still technically maintain objectivity, it's a very slippery slope to assert the opinion that a person who donates at least $4,800 to the football program each year to be completely unbiased.


UF's statement came following Callaway's attorney Huntley Johnson's response to the ESPN report. The sophomore wide receiver was suspended indefinitely in January, and returned fully with the team on Thursday on the first day of fall camp for the Gators.

[H/T to Matt Baker who obtained UF's statement on Twitter]