Urban Meyer has been – rightfully or wrongfully – under fire over the last several weeks as it pertains to the accusation that he enabled Aaron Hernandez while at Florida.
Meyer has refused to talk about Hernandez over the last week, but he sent a series of text messages to The Columbus Dispatch to get his side of the story out.
Meyer denies that Florida enabled Hernandez and contends that he and his staff worked very hard to guide and mentor him throughout his career.
“Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim,” Meyer texted. “Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.
“I just received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by University of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true,” Meyer texted. “Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.
“He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 yrs ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct,” Meyer’s text continued. “Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.”
Until this morning, Meyer had been mute on the subject of Hernandez. But his statement certainly won’t end questions or speculation.
Meyer, however, did not address whether or not the Gainesville Police or the football team properly investigated a 2007 shooting in Gainesville that encircles Hernandez and a few other football players.
Hernandez was charged two weeks ago with first-degree murder after a shooting in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Updated Sunday 1:05 PM: Meyer did a Q&A with the Columbia Dispatch about Hernandez:
On the Florida coaching staff trying to help Hernandez: “When one of our [Florida assistant] coaches started recruiting him up in Connecticut, it was right after his father had died suddenly. There was a lot of emotional trauma with that. [...] You do the best you can. But at the end of the day, there is free will. You can’t change people. You can set the table and try to help them, make sure there is a spiritual component in their life, make sure there is a family atmosphere. And that’s what we try to do – it’s what we’ve tried to do everywhere.”
On Hernandez’s legal issues while playing for the Gators: “Relatively speaking, he had very minor stuff. He was questioned about being a witness [to a shooting], and he had an argument in a restaurant [The Swamp, where he threw a punch as a juvenile], and he was suspended one game [for failing a drug test]. Other than that, he was three years a good player. That was it.”
On the 2007 shooting incident in Gainesville, FL: “I don’t remember his name in [the report]. I remember it was about a one-hour discussion. One of my coaches came in and said, ‘Hey, they’re getting questioned for this.’ I said, ‘Well, what do I need to do?’ And he said, ‘Nothing. They’re not involved.’ And that was it. They weren’t questioned for [doing] the shooting. They were questioned as witnesses.”
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