GAINESVILLE (CBSMiami) – The University of Florida football team has set the standard for football excellence in the last several years. But as the murder case against former UF and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez moves forward, it’s bringing another aspect of UF’s history into the light.
Since 2005, a total of 44 players, including multiple star players, have been arrested for charges ranging from possession of alcohol by a minor to more serious felony charges.
Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer came to the school in 2005 and quickly remade UF’s team into a national championship-caliber team. But, Meyer’s tenure at UF was also marred by the reality that 30 of his players were arrested on various charges during his six years in Gainesville.
The list of arrests, compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, under Meyer was a who’s-who among Florida’s football players including: Chris Rainey (aggravated stalking); Matt Elam (possession of alcohol by a minor); Carlos Dunlap (DUI); Janoris Jenkins (resisting arrest without violence [also had problems with drugs]); Riley Cooper (resisting an officer and failure to comply with a police of fire department).
Cam Newton (felony counts of burglary, larceny; and obstruction of justice); Jermaine Cunningham (misdemeanor battery, later dropped); Brandon James (purchasing/possession of marijuana); and Louis Murphy (possession of marijuana, later dropped).
Since Meyer left and Will Muschamp took over the Gators, 14 more players have been arrested on a variety of charges. Muschamp did Janoris Jenkins off the team for multiple marijuana arrests, and is known as a tough head coach on discipline.
Going back to the Meyer-era at UF, Hernandez was one of his star players at the tight end position. However, he plummeted down draft boards leading into the NFL Draft and was not selected until the fourth round when the Patriots picked him.
As Hernandez was being investigated for murder, reports of drug use at the University of Florida came to light. According to a Boston Globe report in 2010, Hernandez failed just one drug test at the University of Florida.
However, Hernandez told multiple NFL teams during the draft interview process that he failed multiple drug tests while he was a Gator. Published reports have put the number as high as six failed drug tests at UF.
For his part, University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told AL.com that the sources for the articles on Hernandez’s drug use at Florida were inaccurate. Florida’s senior associate athletic director Steve McClain followed up saying “I would on record saying he didn’t fail six drug tests [at UF,” according to NESN.com.
Still, that doesn’t mean Hernandez couldn’t have failed anywhere between one and five drug tests while a member of the Gators.
The trend at UF has continued from Meyer to Muschamp, even with a smaller sample size under the former Texas defensive coordinator. UF has put together a record of more than 80 wins since Meyer walked the sidelines. With a total of 44 arrests, the school averages one arrest for every two wins the team puts together.