Report: Meyer left Florida with off-field issues

Published Apr. 10, 2012 1:28 p.m. ET

Urban Meyer, now the head coach at Ohio State, left the Florida football program in a troublesome state when he resigned, including drug use among players and a practice of preferential treatment for certain players, the Sporting News reported in an investigative article published Monday.

Character issues arose as a result of a culture Meyer created at Florida before resigning after the 2010 season, making things difficult for his successor Will Muschamp.

Former Florida safety Bryan Thomas told the Sporting News, "The program was out of control."

The article, which relied primarily on unnamed sources, noted a number of examples, including the following:

In a 2008 game against Hawaii, Meyer said a few players, including wideout Percy Harvin, linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez, would miss the game with injuries. However, the Sporting News said the three players failed drug tests for marijuana and were sitting out as part of standard university punishment. But there was no indication by Meyer the players were being disciplined.

During offseason conditioning that included running steps before the 2007 season, Harvin, according to the Sporting News, refused to run. "This (expletive) ends now," Harvin said, according to the sources.

"The next day," a former player said, "we were playing basketball as conditioning."

During the 2008 season, Harvin, now with the Minnesota Vikings, attacked wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales. Harvin grabbed Gonzales by the neck, according to the report, and threw him to the ground. Two assistant coaches had to pull Harvin off Gonzales, but Harvin was never disciplined.

At least 30 players were arrested in Meyer's six seasons, and substance abuse was often linked to the best Gators players.

All-American cornerback Janoris Jenkins failed a drug test at Florida while Meyer was the coach and was arrested for a bar fight. Soon after Muschamp became coach, Jenkins was arrested twice for possession of marijuana and dismissed from the team.

Jenkins told the Orlando Sentinel: "If (Meyer) was still the coach at Florida, I'd still be there."