ESPN’s Heather Cox defends asking Jameis Winston about sexual assualt following ACC championship

ESPN reporter Heather Cox took a lot of heat over the weekend after she asked Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston about the sexual assault investigation following the ACC title game.

Several fans, mostly from Florida State, felt like Cox ambushed Winston and Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen took to Twitter expressing his disgust and demanding an apology.

But in an interview with’s Richard Deitsch, Cox said Florida State told her the postgame interview was unrestricted and that he bosses gave her the go-ahead to ask anything she wanted, including trying to obtain Winston’s first unrehearsed comments about a case that had nearly derailed his Heisman chances and Florida State’s national championship hopes.

"They were fully aware that I was going to ask about the investigation," Cox said. "I was never once asked not to ask about the investigation and if I had been asked not to ask those questions, I would have declined to do the interview because I would not have been able to do my job. I think a lot of people out there think I ambushed him (Winston) and went against Coach Fisher and the Florida State PR group, and that is not at all the case. They were fully aware of my intent to ask questions about the investigation."

Cox said she and other ESPN people involved in the production meeting spoke to coach Jimbo Fisher about talking to Winston first, but didn’t specify the line of questioning.

"We talked about it during our meeting with him," Cox said. "We said we would talk to Jameis first. That is not typical. Usually we talk to the coach after the [postgame] handshake and then to the players. But in this case we felt it was important to talk to Jameis first and let him go. Coach Fisher agreed. He said he'd rather stand around and wait than make Jameis wait. It went according to plan and the way Florida State had approved us doing it. We didn't do anything that they did not know about it or were not aware of."

But whether she was given permission to ask about the sexual assault didn’t seem to matter to Jansen, who called Cox out on Twitter, demanding an apology.

Cox did not respond to Jansen’s Twitter requests.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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