Two days after claiming players and families connected with the Florida football program have received death threats, a contrite coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday that he let his emotions get the best of him and it was wrong for him to bring up the subject at his Monday news conference.
“I speak to our guys all the time and the people within our organization about shutting out the noise and not letting the clutter get to you,” McElwain said. “Sometimes things are on your mind and I go ahead and speak. It doesn’t make it right.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and obviously allowing the clutter to get to you is not what it’s all about. Obviously, our guys are aware of it, we’ve talked about it. You know we’re ready to go play Georgia and move forward. The people have been great. That’s very comforting.”
Although apologetic, McElwain still refuses to disclose exact details of the threats, only saying there were just a few anonymous ones that were made sometime in the past. He would not say how far in the past.
He also still will not reveal who received the threats. When asked if he and his family had been directly threatened, he responded with a non answer.
“Obviously, I understand that’s the news. It goes with the territory. You know what, it’s hard to leave (that stuff alone) sometimes,” McElwain said. “You know how much I care about this program, these players. Obviously, everything that goes in with it. But ultimately allowing one or two (bad people), and who even knows who it was, right? You don’t know. It’s anonymous. So, that is what it is, and I’m confident we’re all right.”
McElwain’s revelation of the threats turned into a firestorm after the University Athletic Association released a statement Monday night following a meeting between McElwain, athletic director Scott Stricklin and associate athletic director Laird Veatch. The statement concluded with the line that McElwain had offered no further details of the threats.
To many, that was viewed as an indication that McElwain was being uncooperative and perhaps untruthful.
McElwain said Wednesday he wasn’t sure what the statement meant.
“You know, I don’t really quite understand what even the statement was,” he said. “We visited with Scott and Laird and, yeah, they were really good and supportive.
“We had a really good talk. The fact that it happened in the past, wasn’t just spur of the moment. It’s just something that came up and obviously was on my mind. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it right to air that laundry, and yet, at the same time, they’ve (given) total support.”
Had McElwain provided school officials with details, and the threats were deemed serious, the school would have asked the University Police Department to look into the matter. But, in this case, it never went that far.
“We have not been asked to look into any death threats made against any university student-athletes or coaches,” UPD Maj. Brad Barber said.
Maj. Barber said he does not recall UPD ever investigating threats made against any UF athletes or coaches.
McElwain basically apologized Wednesday for ever revealing the anonymous threats in the first place, saying he let his emotions get the better of him and he should have known better.
“It’s exactly what I tell our guys not to do, let something like that creep into the focus on what you’re here to do,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s really what it is.”
McElwain was asked if the people close to him were caught off by his revelation of the threats Monday.
“I would say it was probably out of character in that standpoint to take things the way that is … rather than a grain of salt,” he said. “And ye,t at the same time, know this, we’ve got really good people here who are concerned and that will be there every step of the way.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.