Ex- USF Athlete's Death Prompts Talk Of Ybor City Ban
In response to the weekend stabbing death of former player Elkino Watson, University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart made Ybor City off-limits to his players Monday.
No more than five hours later, USF Athletic Director Mark Harlan appeared to have overruled Taggart. In a statement released Monday afternoon, Harlan said:
“I would like to make clear USF Athletics high regard for Ybor City and its cherished and historical place in our Bay area community and culture. Earlier today, our football coach spoke out of emotion and in reaction to the tragic loss of Elkino Watson, a member of our football program from 2011-2014. USF Athletics will continue to focus on reinforcing its policy of student-athletes making smart decisions where ever they may be, looking out for one another, and walking away from any situation that appears threatening. They will not be banned from visiting any areas of our beautiful city.”
Watson was stabbed to death outside an Ybor City nightclub early Sunday morning, apparently following a fight. Desmond Horne, a biology major who tried out for the football team this past spring, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Tampa Police have not identified any suspects.
The Orpheum nightclub sponsored what it called the "official" USF-Florida A&M after party Saturday night, but USF put out a news release that said the party wasn't a sanctioned university event. USF beat FAMU 51-3 in the season opener Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.
In a statement released Sunday on GoUSFBulls.com, Taggart spoke about Watson.
“We are deeply saddened and stunned by the tragic loss of Elkino Watson and the injuries suffered by Desmond Horne,” USF Head Coach Willie Taggart said. “Kino was a tremendous young man with a great smile and a big heart who was very much loved by our USF football family and will be sorely missed. Our hearts hurt for his daughter and his family. The thoughts and prayers of our team and our University are with the Watson family as they deal with this terrible loss and with Desmond Horne to make a full recovery.” Watson, a native of Miami, was a four-year letterman for the Bulls (2011-2014) who played in 45 career games and started 19. He was one of the Bulls leaders on the defensive line last season posting 36 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in his final campaign in 2014. Watson, who was in the Chicago Bears mini-camp this spring, logged 74 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and six sacks on his career, finishing ninth all-time on the Bulls career tackles for loss chart.