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Friday, September 30, 2022

Column: How legitimate is UF coach Jim McElwain's claim about death threats?

<p dir="ltr">Shortly after the news conference ended, the University Athletic Association then stepped into the fray, releasing a statement that didn’t exactly stand behind the leader of its football program. “The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details.”</p>

Shortly after the news conference ended, the University Athletic Association then stepped into the fray, releasing a statement that didn’t exactly stand behind the leader of its football program. “The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details.”

I’ve always been someone who tries to give people the benefit of the doubt.

It’s what’s fair. It’s what’s right.

If my roommate — who absolutely loves Krispy Kreme — swears to me he didn’t eat my box of glazed doughnuts, despite the fact it’s now missing from the fridge, I’ll take what he says at face value.

I’d want to be treated the same way if I were in his shoes, after all.

However, if someone casually mentions that people are threatening to kill their loved ones, then backtracks when questioned about it by refusing to elaborate, then admits they haven’t contacted law enforcement, and then — several hours later — are the subject of a public statement that says they failed to provide any evidence of the threats to their employer behind closed doors, I can’t help but feel slightly skeptical.

Jim McElwain, you have some explaining to do.

McElwain, the third-year coach of Florida’s football team, added onto the dumpster fire that’s been UF’s 2017 season on Monday by doing everything I just listed in the run-on sentence two paragraphs above.

After being asked whether his assistant coaches deserve credit for remaining resilient this year, McElwain responded by nonchalantly dropping an unprompted bombshell.

He told reporters his family has received “death threats” in the wake of UF’s 3-3 start to its schedule and even chuckled, stating it was “a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally.”

When peppered with follow-up questions, however, the 55-year-old coach’s demeanor changed. His face sunk, a half-smile disappearing from his lips as he declined to give any further detail on the disturbing claim he just made.

“It is what it is” he sheepishly muttered while he shook his head, refusing to provide any more context to the situation.

Shortly after the news conference ended, the University Athletic Association then stepped into the fray, releasing a statement that didn’t exactly stand behind the leader of its football program:

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“The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details.”

Hmmm. Let’s let that sink in for a second.

If there was any legitimacy to these threats, why didn't McElwain report it to UF or the police? Furthermore, why did the UAA go out of its way to announce he gave his superiors no further information?

Could McElwain have lied about the threats directed at his family? I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there and say no. I don’t think he’d do that.

But could the phrase “death threats” be an exaggeration of what actually occurred? Absolutely.

If McElwain truly believed any of his loved ones were in serious danger, one would hope he'd care enough to inform law enforcement officials.

The fact that he didn't, coupled with the fact that the UAA didn't come to his defense in its public statement, is puzzling to say the least. It's enough to make me question the validity of his claim.

If McElwain wants to do himself a favor, he needs to address this sooner rather than later. It's a horrendous look for everyone involved the longer it goes unexplained.

Dylan Dixon is the Alligator’s assistant sports editor. Contact him at ddixon@alligator.org.

Shortly after the news conference ended, the University Athletic Association then stepped into the fray, releasing a statement that didn’t exactly stand behind the leader of its football program. “The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details.”

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