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The decision by Florida prosecutors not to press sexual assault charges against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has financial ramifications for Winston and his school.
State Attorney Willie Meggs said Thursday that no charges would be filed against Winston, 19, who was accused of raping a female student in December 2012. Meggs said there was not enough evidence for anyone to be charged.
Clearing this legal hurdle makes Winston likely to win the Heisman Trophy award if he performs well in this weekend's ACC championship game. That would be an automatic future revenue stream for Winston.
"Winning the Heisman is worth seven figures over a lifetime," said Ross Tannenbaum, president of Fanatics Authentic, the memorabilia division of Fanatics, the nation's largest online sports retailer. "People collect Heisman winners just like they collect MVP award winners and Cy Young winners. They have to have them."
Tannenbaum said Winston might have a little less value than a winner at Notre Dame, Texas and Ohio State, because Florida State doesn't quite have the same fan base. Any money Winston would earn as the Heisman winner will also be spread out, instead of being paid as a lump sum, because Winston can't take money while he's still in school. He's not eligible to leave school and enter the NFL draft until after next season.
"He'll lose the chance of making immediate money," Tannenbaum said. "If he were done after this year, he'd make hundreds of thousands of dollars right away."
That being said, Winston could enhance his value by coupling a Heisman Trophy with winning a national title.
Winston will also be able to keep his marketability intact now that he has not been charged, said David Schwab, senior vice president of Octagon First Call, the agency's celebrity acquisition and engagement division.
"They have a year to evaluate him," Schwab said. "They can't use him anyway, so assuming everything is good and he does well next season and nothing new comes of this case, I think the risk of signing him is minimal. But I think they might put in some stronger morals clause language to protect themselves."
The extra year might also be beneficial to his slot in the NFL draft order. Winston must play well for another year at Florida State, but one former NFL general manager said a year with a completely clean record could wipe out any character questions to the point where this incident won't be an issue with any team.
Also, with Winston available to play, the potential increases for the Seminoles to win the national championship. That, too, can be extremely valuable. Schools that have won titles have seen licensing revenue jump by $1 million to $2 million.
An increase in booster money varies widely depending on the program, but there's no debate that Florida State's athletic department needs the money. In recent years, it has had a problem making budget, and Seminole Boosters, in the last reported year, raised only $31.7 million, down from $42.8 million five years ago, according to tax records.