Former Florida football coach Urban Meyer has ended his silence and is defending himself as well as the Gators’ coaching staff against allegations that murder suspect Aaron Hernandez, a former tight end with the New England Patriots, received any preferential treatment during his playing days at the university.
Stories have begun to circulate of bad behavior while in college by Hernandez, who has been charged in the June 17 killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, while playing for Meyer from 2007-09.
Meyer, now the coach at Ohio State, sent text messages to the Columbus Dispatch in response to what he termed inaccurate reports about Hernandez’s treatment by the staff at Florida.
Meyer’s text said: “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. Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.
“Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible. He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 yrs ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.”
Hernandez, who was never arrested while at Florida but was suspended once for testing positive for marijuana, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Lloyd, who was reportedly dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
Prosecutors say Hernandez, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace drove with Lloyd to an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Mass., where they shot Lloyd execution style.
Wire service and Internet reports contributed to this story.