Mullen responds to Florida’s recent transfers, legal troubles

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UF football coach Dan Mullen. [PIERRE DUCHARME/THE LAKELAND LEDGER/File]

By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent

TAMPA — For the first time since the spring game, Florida football coach Dan Mullen met with the media prior to his speech Wednesday to the Tampa Gator Club at Armature Works.

From the accusations against former UF quarterback Jalon Jones to the recent transfer of cornerback Chris Steele, Mullen addressed the recent offseason troubles that have unfolded in the public eye.

“There are a lot of things that you go through as a coach. There are scenarios that are going to come up,” Mullen said. “There’s highs, there’s lows at times of stuff you have to deal with. I don’t think it’s frustrating or angry. There’s more a little bit of disappointment than anything else.”

Jones, whom Mullen recruited since his freshman year of high school, was accused of sexually assaulting two female students April 6. The women declined to press charges against Jones, but he entered the NCAA transfer database late last month regardless.

Mullen explained why Jones played in the spring game April 13. 

“Reports were coming out to us at that point,” Mullen said. “But within that situation, as reports get to you, we try to turn them over and follow the university and campus protocols that we have. I think we immediately tried to follow campus protocol with everything that happened and when we got the details of the situation, we immediately suspended him from team activities until we could get all the information.”

The Sun first reported details surrounding Steele’s departure last Thursday. According to sources, the decision stemmed from the April 6 incident and a request Steele made during his first month on campus to not room with Jones.

A plan was in place to move Steele in the summer, but the assault accusations led to an irreparable situation, according to sources. When Steele’s parents first learned of the allegations against Jones through the release of the police reports May 2, he and his family decided it was in his best interest to transfer, sources said.

There were also reports of Steele being homesick, which he denied to The Sun.

Mullen did not get into the specifics of Steele’s transfer Wednesday, but said a lot of factors were in play.

“I think with Chris and his situation, we discussed with him and his family a lot of things that went into the decision he was going to make to go to school back on the West Coast,” Mullen said. “To me, there were a bunch of things that went into that decision. I don’t really want to go into all of them, because they were really kind of a private conversation between us and his family. Those are tough decisions for family, and I’d rather leave a lot of those things private.”

Mullen said he and his wife flew to California last Wednesday to support Steele with his decision, whether he elected to return or transfer. Steele announced Tuesday he will transfer to Oregon.

Mullen, asked if there’s anything he would have done differently with the Steele situation, was noncommittal.

“I don’t know. I think there was a lot that went into that for him and his family in that decision,” Mullen said. “One of the things that we’ve done is try to support him. For me, I’ve supported him from the day he got on campus and even through today. We’re still trying to support him and help him work through his decision and help him in the future.”

Mullen also answered questions regarding the ongoing legal troubles surrounding Florida cornerback Brian Edwards and director of player personnel Otis Yelverton. He said Edwards is still taking classes but not participating in team activities, while Yelverton remains on administrative leave. 

Edwards was arrested earlier this month on a misdemeanor battery charge for allegedly grabbing his girlfriend by the neck when she tried to leave their apartment during an argument. Edwards pleaded not guilty.

Yelverton, 51, is facing a third-degree felony for aggravated cyberstalking.

“It’s really disappointing for us when we have individuals, whether it’s a student-athlete or a staff member, make a decision that really negatively affects them, but also shines a little bit of a negative on the program,” Mullen said. “I do like to make sure processes play out for individuals. … Even though you may like to rush to a judgment immediately, you do like to let processes play out for individuals before I rush to judge their futures when they haven’t even gone through a legal process or anything else.

“I don’t see anything acceptable about that, any violence toward women, whether it’s a violent act or a wrongful sexual act. I’d love to take a strong stance to that, but I also like to have all the information before I have to make final decisions.”

21 COMMENTS

  1. I really hoped he would have let the buck stop with him and have taken responsibility and put it to rest, since he IS the Head Coach but instead we got a bunch of PC talk and milk toast explanations. Still support him but I dont like people who wont take responsibility especially when they are the head of an organization!

    • I usually know where you’re coming from, Daz — but this time I’m at a loss. Anyway, the Man has spoken, I hope we can now put this damn thing to bed, and get on without any more football doom and gloom from the media. Fat chance, huh?

    • Sorry, Daz. Don’t usually like to correct folks in an open forum such as this, but “milk toast” is a breakfast dish consisting of toasted bread in warm milk, typically with sugar and butter. I know you meant “milquetoast” in characterizing Mullen’s explanations, and I must disagree. I side with Jaws on this. If there is scandal in a business you own or in your family that is in the public eye, how much do you feel you need to divulge to the media for public consumption? People who are completely subjective respond with a knee jerk reaction of GUILTY, when news such as the Jalon Jones incident hits the airwaves. Mullen methodically and thoroughly dealt with these negative issues by gathering all the information and making objective decisions, and for example, Mullen states, “I think we immediately tried to follow campus protocol with everything that happened and when we got the details of the situation, we immediately suspended him from team activities until we could get all the information.” What fault do you find in this? Gator-6 is right, let’s just put the damn thing to bed and get back to looking forward to the sesquicentennial celebration of college football and being the first team to play, on a national stage, and also first to win when we defeat Miami in this huge game! Our brand will shine from thenceforth. Go GATORS!

    • Daz, I have learned that you are not going to get any agreement on your comments on this forum from those whose bleed orange. Mullen responded when ask if he would do anything different in regards to his handling of Chris Steele, “I don’t know.” I believe Mullen has played out in his head a million times what he would do differently. Mullen doesn’t strike me as the kind of coach that doesn’t learn from his experiences.

      I have one suggestion for Mullen to consider. Institute a mentoring program for incoming players by pairing up a freshman with one or two players that have been in the program, preferably Juniors, and understand/believe in the Gator Standard. I have witnessed first hand what happens when you put freshman together that are away from home for the first time. Let the upperclassmen hand the baton off to the freshmen. Of course you need the upperclassmen to buy into this leadership concept and be willing to live/mentor a younger player.

      • So what if we disagree, Mexi? Nothing personal, and it’s not like an objective truth or something where 2+2 always = 4, regardless of one’s own individual preferences, feelings, or beliefs.

        Besides, I bleed olive drab — not orange. (😜❤🐊🏈)

        • Gator-6,
          We have agreed on much more than we have disagreed. I highly respect your opinion on all matters. What makes America the greatest country in the world is it citizens’s ability to share their opinions in an open forum such as Gatorsports. Thank you for your military service in protecting our right to disagree.

          • You are right of course, Mexi — I don’t ever recall disagreeing with you in the past, and I’m not really sure what this is all about anyway. Keep up the good work and I apologize if I took your comments out of context, bud.

    • Daz, for some reason a lot of these reporters choose to leave out certain parts of the comments made by Mullen, leaving it open for continued speculation to go on. I really don’t understand why they don’t just report the full story. It’s almost as if they write these articles with the intent on sitting back and watching the back and forth on the comments. This is actually a legit article from Thomas Goldkamp on 247 that doesn’t pick and choose what parts of his comments they want to include.

      https://247sports.com/college/florida/Article/Dan-Mullen-talks-Chris-Steele-transfer-Jalon-Jones-Brian-Edwards-Otis-Yelverton-arrests-Florida-Gators-Football-132068241/

    • Same here and I agree with you Daz. Generality speak instead of specific details. However, this is what a lot of coaches do. But, would like to have seen more responsibility and specifics and put this to rest once and for all. In my opinion, we did not get this from Mullen but his overall body of work is fantastic and I fully support him!

  2. Players, coaches, fans, etc. are all capable of making bad decisions because all of them are human. These guys allegedly did things that hurt themselves. Certainly these actions do not represent the University or all of the players and coaches. People on my staff do things from time to time that get themselves into trouble. I don’t think of my entire staff as being bad. We investigate, discipline as needed, and move on. I think that is the approach that Mullen is taking and that is the approach most of the business world takes as well. Mullen is doing what he needs to do. Everybody is responsible for their own actions and decisions. Go Gators!

  3. I hope when Mullen and Staff recruit these “high octane” young men from the West Coast, they are really evaluating their personal situations. Bottom line, it takes ALL DAY and $1500-2000 (per body) for the student and/or family member to make the trip to Gainesville. That would have been a no go situation for most guys, who have close families.

  4. I dont think any comments made by Mullen really changed anyone’s view of what happened. The best thing that can happen is for something to come out of the conference meetings in Destin in a couple weeks that get people talking about something else. Go Gators! No news from now until Fall practice starts would be a positive 😎

  5. The biggest frustration is that this was so easily avoidable. Making accomodations for a legitimate request for a roommate change shouldn’t require an act of congress. And yes, especially from a top freshman recruit. Still a big Mullen fan, but would have liked to hear a better explanation/accountability.

    • That’s kind’ve the easy thing to say now that we see what happened. Didn’t seem anyone really cared that he wasn’t moved right away, especially his dad, until the sexual assault occurred. The other thing is, does anyone know what the school policy is regarding room changes in the middle of the semester? I don’t know how anyone can be so sure of the ease of this whole situation without all the facts. Seems to me like Mullen was following school policy with everything and an unfortunate situation happened and it blew up in his face. I think he explained everything as best as he could without crossing any lines.