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Monday, September 22, 2003
School: QB 'needs to be an example'

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State quarterback Chris Rix used an unauthorized handicap parking tag on campus, and paid a $100 fine after fellow students told police.

Students recognized Rix as he parked his sports utility vehicle near one of his classes last Thursday, and chastised him as he walked away. They then left a note on his windshield and called police, who put a lock on a tire so the vehicle couldn't be moved, school officials said.

Rix said after practice Monday night that the handicap tag belongs to a family friend he occasionally helps gets medicine. He said he drove her to the hospital Thursday morning, then parked in the handicap spot because he was running late for class.

"There were four handicapped spots. I thought I'd be OK for an hour," Rix said. "I definitely made a mistake. ... I definitely regret it and shouldn't have parked there."

Rix said coach Bobby Bowden has been making him run extra each morning this week as punishment.

Quarterbacks coach Daryl Dickey said Rix would start Saturday at Duke.

School administrators didn't seem as eager to overlook the ticket.

"He needs to be an example to students and ballplayers and a proud representative of this university's reputation," said Lee Hinkle, vice president for university relations. "Actions such as those he took last week don't do that."

The unauthorized use of handicapped parking passes turned into a scandal at UCLA five years ago and led to misdemeanor charges for several players, including star quarterback Cade McNown, and two-game suspensions for 10 players.

In 1999, 19 UCLA football players pleaded no contest to illegally using disabled driver placards to park in handicapped spaces.

Rix, who has led Florida State to a 4-0 record and a No. 6 ranking in both the ESPN/USA Today coaches' and AP media polls, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rix passed for a career-high 394 yards in Saturday's 47-7 win over Colorado.

This is just the latest off-the-field problem for Rix, a redshirt junior from Santa Margarita, Calif. Last year, he was suspended for Florida State's Sugar Bowl game for sleeping through a final exam.

Last season, he was benched after the Notre Dame loss, in part for being late for team meetings and for poor class attendance.

Rix, who has his own Web site as well as No. 16 monograms on the side of his SUV, blamed last year's behavior on personal distractions.

University President T.K. Wetherell met with Rix just before the start of classes to emphasize the importance of his off-field behavior.

Hinkle said Monday the school wants to treat its athletes the same as any other student. "We are trying as best we can to do the right thing by these kids," she said.