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John Thrasher addresses the faithful at FSU Day

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A week after Florida State University finally settled the legal matter surrounding its handling of allegations against Jameis Winston, the school’s annual FSU Day at the state Capitol went on as usual on a dreary Tuesday afternoon.

FSU President John Thrasher gave the benediction amid spirited brass and fanfare, keeping his remarks short and sticking mostly to athletics. He also trumpeted Florida State’s recent gains in graduation and retention rates.

State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser said FSU graduates 83 percent of its students, outpacing decennial estimates made by college ranking publications such as U.S. News & World Report.

FSU head football coach Jimbo Fisher also took a turn at the lectern, thanking the community for its support during a better-than-expected 10-3 season and introducing junior defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker and 2016 Heisman hopeful Dalvin Cook.

More than three dozen lawmakers with degrees from FSU received recognition on stage including House Majority Leader Dana Young, GOP Whip Jim Boyd, future Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon and Rep. Clay Ingram, former football standout and a member of the 1999 national championship team.

Afterward reporters asked Thrasher about FSU’s recent $950,000 settlement payment to halt the federal Title IX lawsuit filed on behalf of a former student who has accused Winston of sexually assaulting her and the school of neglecting to investigate the case thoroughly.

Speculation is that the FSU Boosters Club will pick up part of the school’s legal fees Thrasher affirmed that, saying the boosters asked to do so to avoid a hit the more school’s finances.

“I’m proud of boosters,” Thrasher said, saying the rest of the fees will be paid in part from licensing revenues.

Thrasher also responded to grumblings from the student’s attorneys and supporters that a news release announcing the agreement was skewed to emphasize the portion of the award going to her lawyers.

“The information we had from them was precisely what we had down in the settlement,” he said.

Asked whether negotiators for the school arranged to have that breakdown included in the settlement, Thrasher said, “I thought it was a good thing to report.”

“I thought it was important to let people know where the resources were going,” Thrasher said. “It’s as simple as that. It’s part of the story.”

Thrasher then explained that the fees were not unusually high, given the extensive federal case involving multiple venues and extensive depositions, before saying he was through answering questions on the lawsuit.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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