Urban Meyer: Florida did not enable Hernandez

Updated on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Five days after refusing to speak about tight end Aaron Hernandez, former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer sent a series of text messages to The Columbus Dispatch (and other media outlets) in an effort to tell his side of the story.

According to Meyer, reports about Hernandez’s time at Florida have been exaggerated. He claims that Hernandez did not fail multiple drug tests – as was initially reported shortly after the New England Patriots selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft – and that his family and everyone involved with the Gators did whatever they could to help put him on the right path.

“I just received an e-mail from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by [the 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.

“He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 years 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.

”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.”

Now the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Meyer has taken plenty of heat over the last two weeks for Hernandez after he was charged with first degree murder following a shooting in North Attleboro, MA.

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FOUR BITS: USA Basketball, Tebow, Hernandez

1 » Rookie left-handed pitcher Alex Wood has been getting hazed by his Atlanta Braves teammates since being promoted to the majors. One tactic his teammates are using to embarrass Wood is forcing him to carry a plush Florida Gators backpack out to the bullpen when he warms up. “His fellow relievers brought as much attention to the prank as they could,” MLB.com explains, “making Wood lead the group into the outfield and taking turns playing with the snout of the plush gator mascot on the back of the backpack.” The former Georgia standout only faced Florida twice during his three years in college with the Gators beating him both times.

2 » By defeating Serbia 71-62 on Wednesday, USA Basketball earned the No. 1 overall seed in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship and will open up the bracket portion of the event on Friday at 2:15 p.m. when the Americans take on their neighbors to the north, Canada. Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier II barely saw the court in the United States’ last game, playing only the final 1:37 of the first half and not leaving the bench in the second half. Head coach Billy Donovan did not sit Frazier without good reason; he had shot 8-of-36 (.222) from downtown in the first five games. ESPN3.com has picked up the quarterfinals of the event and will air the Americans’ showdown with the Canadians at 2:15 p.m. on Friday.

3 » Green Bay Packers rookie running back Jonathan Franklin was born in Los Angeles, CA, and attended UCLA but did not name a Californian his role model when asked during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I Love Tim Tebow because of his spiritual walk,” Franklin explained. “Through all that he’s been through he still stays strong in his walk and that’s very encouraging. My pastor and my mom (Pamela) have also been great role models for me.”

Check out Aaron Hernandez murder investigation updates…after the break.
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Hernandez, Nelson named in 2007 shooting report

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Wednesday took a closer look at a 2007 shooting in Gainesville, FL, in which former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez was questioned after a “source with knowledge of the [Odin Lloyd] murder investigation” told ABC News that Massachusetts authorities have reached out to the Gainesville Police Department “in hopes of determining if Hernandez had any role” in the incident.

In response to ESPN’s report, the GPD announced via press release that it is “aware that members of the national media are reporting” on the incident but noted that the media obtained a police report “from sources outside of the Department” because the GPD “has not released any incident report concerning this case due to it being an open criminal investigation.” Furthermore, the GDP refuted ABC News and denied being contacted by “any other law enforcement agency about the incident.”

However, one hour later, the GPD updated its press release to explain that the police report in question “was released inadvertently” after “a public records request was made by ESPN and fulfilled in error by a clerk.” The GPD subsequently made the report available to the public, noting that it is incomplete because “there are still detective supplements outstanding because it is classified as an open criminal investigation.”

Below are the pertinent details from the police report, many of which were first released by ESPN in its Wednesday report:

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Hernandez nearly arrested at Florida in 2007

The Wall Street Journal on Monday uncovered a 2007 police report showing that the Gainesville Police Department nearly arrested former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez on felony battery charges before he ever stepped on the field for the team.

According to a police report from April 28, 2007, a 17-year-old Hernandez was served two “alcoholic drinks” by a waitress at The Swamp, finished the drinks and then refused to pay the bill because he claimed he had never ordered them in the first place.

A “verbal altercation” between Hernandez and a then-restaurant employee escalated when the two stepped outside of the establishment. “Hernandez told police [Michael] Taphorn ‘got in his face’ and began yelling at him,” reports the WSJ. “As Taphorn turned to walk away, Hernandez punched him in the side of the head – a fact Hernandez did not dispute.”

Two witnesses, one of whom was quarterback Tim Tebow, told police that Taporn “was being irrational and was getting in [Hernandez’s] face,” according to an incident report obtained by OnlyGators.com.

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6 BITS: Speights, Hernandez, Calathes, Robinson

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights declined his 2013-14 player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will test free agency, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Speights, who would have earned $4.515 million from the Cavaliers had he exercised his option, will likely join his fourth team in six NBA seasons unless he is signed by Cleveland, Memphis or Philadelphia, which selected him with the No. 16 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Speights was traded on Jan. 22 to the Cavaliers where he averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.

2 » The prosecution in the State of Massachusetts’ case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is now of the belief that all three men involved in the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd are now in custody, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter said in a statement. Ernest Wallace, 41, turned himself into Miramar, FL, police on Friday after seeing his name on the news. Investigators are now focused on finding the murder weapon as they continue to piece together a case that is based on Hernandez being the lone shooter.

RELATED: Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
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Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Updated Friday at 2:15 p.m.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder in the first degree and arraigned on five additional gun charges when he made his first appearance in front of an Attleboro District Court judge on Wednesday.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and will be held without bail.

Hernandez, who was arrested at approximately 8:45 a.m. Wednesday at his North Attleboro, MA, home, has been the center of an investigation by Massachusetts State Police since Monday, June 17 following the “execution-style” murder of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

The Patriots released Hernandez two hours after his arrest.

In addition to being charged with first degree murder at the arraignment, Hernandez was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, two counts of possession of a large-capacity firearm, and two counts of possession of a firearm without an owner’s identification card (one including ammunition).

Attorneys Michael K. Fee and James L. Sultan represented Hernandez in court as Bristol Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley detailed a wide variety of circumstantial evidence the state has already uncovered implicating Hernandez in Lloyd’s murder.

The state has used surveillance evidence and cellular tower tracking data to place a vehicle containing Hernandez, Lloyd and two other men at the scene of the crime. Two minutes after shots were heard in the area, the vehicle arrived at Hernandez’s home, which is two minutes away from the crime scene.

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Hernandez arrested then released by Patriots

UPDATED STORY: Aaron Hernandez charged with first degree murder

Tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested at his North Attleboro, MA, home on Wednesday morning at approximately 8:45 a.m. and officially released by the New England Patriots just under two hours later.

Hernandez, who has been under intense scrutiny since June 17 when Massachusetts State Police centered a homicide investigation in and around his $1.3 million, 5,600-square foot house, has yet to be arraigned or officially charged with a crime. That will occur in a Attleboro District Court at some point Wednesday.

Following Hernandez’s arraignment, Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter will issue a statement and take questions from the press.

Over the last 10 days, police have searched Hernandez’s home three times. They last visited it on Saturday with approximately 20 officers and two K9s, removing multiple bags of evidence from the premises. On Sunday, police searched a swampland area behind the house but were reportedly unable to find anything of significance.

Attorney Michael K. Fee, a lawyer representing Hernandez, released the following statement on behalf of his client on Monday night.

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Foley defends Florida’s handling of Hernandez

Though New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has yet to be charged with a crime, a North Attleboro, MA, homicide investigation that appears to be focused on the player and his home has brought the his past decisions into question.

When New England selected Hernandez with the No. 113 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, it did so knowing he had plenty of red flags.

He had supposedly smoked marijuana and hung out with a bad crowd in high school. He got arrested as a 17-year-old freshman with the Florida Gators after he got into a fight with a bouncer at a bar. (Hernandez was charged as a juvenile and accepted deferred prosecution). He was also questioned in a 2008 shooting in Gainesville, FL, though he spoke with police as a potential eyewitness and not a suspect, a fact conveniently left out of many reports about the incident.

Most alarming for the Patriots and other NFL teams, however, was information they learned that was also contained in a report published by the Boston Globe shortly after Hernandez was drafted by New England.

The story, citing sources from three NFL teams that knew about Hernandez’s background and supposed problems at Florida, noted that he did not just fail a drug test in 2008 (which led to a one-game suspension, the only contest he missed during his three years with the Gators). Rather, a “longtime executive” claimed, Hernandez failed from 4-6 drug tests while at Florida and was not punished accordingly.

“He had multiple positive tests, so he either had issues or he’s dumb. One or two tests? Fine. But four, five, six? Come on, now you’ve got an addiction,” the NFL executive said.

Though the Gators did not address the Globe report at the time, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that on Tuesday.

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