Urban Meyer defends self, Florida

Updated: July 8, 2013, 6:43 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has broken his silence, defending himself and the University of Florida over the treatment Aaron Hernandez received while playing for the Gators.

Hernandez, who played under Meyer at Florida from 2007-09, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd near Hernandez's home in North Attleborough, Mass. Prosecutors say Hernandez arranged Lloyd's shooting because he was upset at him for talking to certain people at a nightclub.

"Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim," Meyer texted to the Columbus Dispatch. "Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible."

Until now, Meyer had declined comment about Hernandez. He said his text to the paper was prompted by inaccurate reports about the treatment Hernandez received at Florida.

Urban Meyer
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesUrban Meyer directly addressed, and denied, the idea that he and his staff "enabled" Aaron Hernandez while the player was at Florida.

"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," Meyer texted to the paper. "Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player."

Meyer continued to defend himself and Florida in the text.

"He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 yrs ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct," Meyer's text continued. "Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him."

Meyer did reach out to Hernandez while at Florida, bringing the player to his home for bible study sessions and trying to help Hernandez deal with the sudden death of his father in 2006. He also vouched for Hernandez with Patriots coach Bill Belichick after many teams avoided Hernandez in the 2010 draft because of his conduct problems.

In another development,  ESPN's "Outside The Lines" reported earlier this week that Massachusetts authorities have reached out to police in Gainesville, Fla., in hopes of determining whether Hernandez had any role in a 2007 shooting that left two men wounded. One of the men was shot in the back of the head, according to a police report of the shooting obtained by "Outside the Lines."

At the time of the 2007 shooting, Hernandez was a 17-year-old freshman at Florida.

In the incident in Mass., prosecutors say Ernest Wallace and another man, Carlos Ortiz, were with Hernandez when they drove with Lloyd to an industrial park where Lloyd was shot in the early hours of June 17. Police haven't said who shot Lloyd.

Wallace will be arraigned Monday on a charge of accessory to murder.  Ortiz, who lives in Hernandez's hometown of Bristol, Conn., has been charged with carrying a firearm the day of the shooting.

Information from ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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