TAMPA, Fla. – Florida coach Dan Mullen's personal beliefs about violence against women have not resulted in a zero tolerance policy for his program.
Although Mullen expressed disappointment at having two players and a staff member accused of violence against women in the past month, he acknowledged on Wednesday that "it would be hypocritical if you see my story to say it's a 100 percent deal."
Mullen's past experiences help explain why security Brian Edwards and Otis Yelverton, an assistant director of player personnel, remain part of the program.
"Obviously, anyone who knows me, I like to take a very strong stance on that," Mullen said before stopping on his annual booster tour. "I do not see anything acceptable about that, no violence against women, be it a violent act or an illicit sexual act towards women, but I also like to have all the information before making final decisions."
Edwards was accused last week of grabbing his girlfriend for two years by the neck while trying to leave his apartment. A witness intervened and called 911, according to Gainesville police. Edwards was arrested for a battery charge, a misdemeanor of the first degree. He pleaded not guilty.
Yelverton was arrested on April 23 for a cyber threat, according to Alachua County court records. Police said Yelverton threatened to blow up his ex-girlfriend's car in a voice mail and called her, sent her a text message or sent her a message on Facebook 40 times after their separation. Yelverton, 51, was arrested on a charge of aggravated harassment, a third-degree felony.
Yelverton was placed on administrative leave.
Edwards is still taking classes in Florida but has been suspended from all team activities.
"I've had players in the past who had certain situations that I've given them a second chance at," Mullen said, quoting former Jeffery Simmons, defensive tackle of the State of Mississippi. "I had a lot of information to make that decision, that was not a whim, in retrospect, I would keep my decision that I made the last time, with Jeffrey Simmons, but I had a lot of information to make that decision, probably it was not even public. or people did not investigate or did not know how to make that decision. "
Simmons was caught on video in 2016 hitting a woman during a fight that also involved her sister and her mother. Simmons apologized for the incident and had no problems during his three years in the state of Mississippi, the first two under Mullen.
"You often hear different sides of the story," Mullen said. "I try not to be the judge in what is 100 percent of the truth, my job is not an investigator … That's the best way to make a decision, once you have all the information. Good to have to wait to get all the information, but it's the best way to make a decision. "
Florida field marshal, Jalon Jones, was also charged with committing sexual assault twice in a 30-minute window on April 6. The freshman has withdrawn from school and intends to transfer.
Chris Steele, the best-qualified recruit in Mullen's most recent signature class, and cornerback Jayson Hill were named in police reports as witnesses. They were Jones' roommates.
Steele, who asked to move to a different dormitory before the incident, left school last month and has since announced plans to transfer to Oregon.
"There's a lot of that for him and his family in that decision," said Mullen, who traveled to California with his wife in hopes of convincing Steele to return. "One of the things we've done is try to support him, I've supported him since the day he arrived on campus until today, we're still trying to support him and help him work on his decision and help him in the future."
No violence against women is one of Florida's "core values" and is included in the signs that hang in the team's meeting room.
"It's really disappointing for us when we have individuals, be it an athlete or a staff member, make a decision that affects them negatively but also shines a little bit of a negative on the program," Mullen said. "[It’s] Really disappointing because we spent a lot of time making decisions with our guys. … We are spending a lot of time on how to make good decisions in life, how to make good social decisions and how to improve in life. "When this kind of thing happens, obviously, it's very disappointing for us when there are a couple of people who do that."