Meyer hoped to keep heart trouble quiet

The Florida football coach said he was protecting his family.


Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 10:45 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS - Urban Meyer deflected most of the questions Thursday about his health and his decisions to resign and then to take a leave of absence.

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Florida coach Urban Meyer and Cincinnati interim coach Jeff Quinn pose with the Allstate Sugar Bowl trophy on Thursday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

But he did answer one directly.

Asked about the initial misinformation that said he was suffering from dehydration when he was admitted to the hospital on the morning of Dec. 6, Meyer said it was done to protect his family.

An audio tape released Wednesday of the 911 call made by his wife, Shelley - after which Meyer was rushed by ambulance to Shands at the University of Florida - makes it clear that Meyer was actually suffering from chest pain the morning after the SEC Championship Game.

"This will be the only comment I make," Meyer said Thursday. "When you're dealing with family members, I have these three children that mean more to me than anything. I have a football team that means more to me than anything. I didn't want it to get out at all.

"And then we were very careful. I didn't want anyone alarmed ... you think at some point there would be a lot of respect for families involved and children and 11-year-old boys and 16-year-old girls and 19-year-old girls that, do what you have to do to protect them. If that means not coming clean with full details about something very personal, if you can't understand that, I think you've got to recheck yourself."

In the last news conference before tonight's Sugar Bowl between a pair of top-five teams, Meyer was asked a dozen questions about the story that has overshadowed this bowl game.

He said he did not apologize to the Gator players for his flip-flop and would not discuss the release of the 911 call made by Shelley Meyer, or whether he had told a recruit he will be back coaching the team in August.

At one point, the moderator of Thursday's news conference asked members of the media to "respect coach Meyer's wishes and stay away from health and concentrate on football questions."

Meyer will coach the Gators Friday night in what might be his final game as a coach. And it will be played against his alma mater.

"I think there will be an appropriate time to address some of those situations," Meyer said. "Today would not be the day.

"The focus is on doing the best job we possibly can to go win that game. It would be really inappropriate to have any other discussion other than our football team, our football players and trying to go win a tough game."

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