Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer has responded to critics about his treatment of former player Aaron Hernandez during his time as Florida’s head coach.
As quoted by ESPN.com, Meyer expressed his sympathies for the family of Odin Lloyd—the victim in the ongoing Hernandez murder investigation—but also attempted to clear up the notion that he or the University of Florida were in any way to blame:
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. 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.
Meyer went on to say that he and his staff reached out to mentor Hernandez:
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.
In light of the recent investigation involving a 2007 shooting in Florida, Massachusetts authorities have “reached out” to Gainesville, Fla., police to ascertain whether Hernandez had any involvement in that incident, per the ESPN report.
Meyer had deflected questions about Hernandez and his murder investigation before these recent comments, which were sent in a text message to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch. Meyer had also taken heat for tweets from his wife and daughter’s Twitter accounts, apparently referencing accusations of preferential treatment for Hernandez while at Florida.
According to a USA Today report, Hernandez was also involved in an altercation at a bar in 2007 in which he punched Michael Taphorn, the bar manager. As noted in the report, Taphorn was believed to have been approached by Florida’s legal staff and coaches, though the manager denied those reports.
Regardless of Hernandez’s potential involvement in the cases under investigation, Meyer saw fit to clear the air and defend himself and the university.
USA Today also noted that Meyer answered questions from May, the details of which will be published in a story on Sunday.