South Florida football player LaDarrius Jackson, who was arrested Monday night and charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment, had his first court hearing this afternoon. Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor is an alumnus of USF, and she expressed her acute displeasure with the program’s recent direction, personally calling out new coach Charlie Strong.
I graduated from USF in 1989, long before there was a football team. And while USF may not be the top-ranked school in the nation, I was never ashamed of being an alum until now. I’m embarrassed and ashamed, Mr. Jackson. Let’s just say my USF diploma is not proudly hanging in my office right now.
Neither Jackson nor Hassan Childs (who was kicked off the team in March after allegedly pulling a gun on someone and getting shot three times) were recruited by Strong, but they were arrested after Strong took over in December. Taylor intimated to Strong that he maybe should not be USF’s coach:
This court, and I’m sure I’m not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It’s fairly clear that you do not have control of them off the field. And I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.
I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being head coach at USF is a good fit for you, before any other members of this community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players.
Strong responded to Taylor’s remarks and defended his short tenure with the program:
“In the short time I have been here our program has been built on character, discipline and family. We have wonderful young men in the USF football program who choose to do the right thing every day. We are dedicated to recruiting young men of high character, and to consistently developing them with structure and frequent education regarding appropriate conduct and behavior, on and off the playing field. While I am shocked and saddened at the recent arrest of a member of our team, I am disappointed that the actions of two players over the last two months have harmed the reputation of our program, of our wonderful university and of my character. We have high expectations of our coaches, staff and student-athletes and we hold accountable those who act contrary to our values.”
Update, 5/4, 2:59 p.m. EDT: Taylor has voluntarily recused herself and left the case.