JACKSONVILLE — Rumors circulating online and on talk radio about the possible departure of Florida football coach Jim McElwain forced Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin to issue a statement that was released on the school’s Twitter account today.
“No one representing the University of Florida or our athletic department has had any conversation with Coach McElwain or his representatives regarding a buyout of his contract. Our focus is on this great Florida-Georgia rivalry today in Jacksonville.”
CBS sideline reporter Allie LaForce said pregame that Stricklin met before the contest with McElwain to assure him of no conversations about a buyout.
The off-the-field drama in Gainesville began Monday when McElwain said during his weekly news conference that Florida players and families received death threats. He did not contact police and declined to say whether he personally received threats.
School administrators, including Stricklin, met with McElwain in hopes of gathering more information and helping alleviate any safety concerns. McElwain rebuffed their efforts, prompting a statement from the athletic department that essentially criticized McElwain for being uncooperative.
McElwain walked back his statement a bit Wednesday, but stopped short of apologizing and again refused to provide details about the threats.
Then Thursday, the seven suspended Florida players, including standout receiver Antonio Callaway, entered a pretrial intervention program that could result in the dismissal of felony credit card fraud charges.
State Attorney Bill Cervone filed paperwork with the Alachua County court Thursday that showed the outcome of a monthlong investigation. The players will need to make restitution and comply with probation protocols over the next 12 months to get the charges dropped without any legal findings. The intervention agreements still need to be approved by a judge in the coming weeks.
Callaway, running back Jordan Scarlett, defensive lineman Keivonnis Davis, defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, linebacker James Houston, linebacker Ventrell Miller and receiver Rick Wells were charged with fraudulent use of a credit card and identity theft. Each of them made one charge with a stolen credit card number, ranging in value from $500 to $2,000, authorities said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.