In this Nov. 13, 2010, file photo, then-Florida coach Urban Meyer glances at the scoreboard during his team’s NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin, File)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said it is “wrong and irresponsible” to connect him or his former Florida staff to the murder charge facing Aaron Hernandez.
In texts to The Columbus Dispatch and The Gainesville Sun on Saturday, Meyer said there was no cover-up of drug tests during Hernandez’s time at Florida. Meyer coached Florida from 2005 to 2010.
These were Meyer’s first comments about Hernandez after he declined to comment earlier this week.
The coach said in the texts he “received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests covered up” by the university or the coaching staff. Meyer said that is “absolutely not true” and Hernandez was “held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.”
Hernandez played three years under Meyer at Florida. The former New England Patriot is charged in the shooting death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. He has pleaded not guilty.
“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.”
During Meyer’s time with the Gators, Florida had at least 31 arrests involving 25 players. Many involved alcohol possession and disorderly conduct, but a dozen involved initial charges of felonies or violent misdemeanors.
Hernandez was never arrested during his three seasons with the Gators. He was, however, suspended for the 2008 season opener and later acknowledged the suspension was punishment for testing positive for marijuana.
In other Hernandez developments Saturday:
— Hundreds of Patriots fans traded in their No. 81 Hernandez jerseys. The team is allowing fans to swap jerseys with the tight end’s number for a different one this weekend. The Patriots released Hernandez shortly after his June 26 arrest.
— A man charged as an accessory in the murder case is to be arraigned Monday in Attleboro, Mass. Ernest Wallace, of Miramar, Fla., was turned over on Friday to Massachusetts officials.