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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Florida head coach Billy Napier addresses Jalen Kitna’s dismissal

The former quarterback was arrested on child pornography charges

Florida quarterback Jalen Kitna during the Gators' game against Eastern Washington Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
Florida quarterback Jalen Kitna during the Gators' game against Eastern Washington Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

Florida head coach Billy Napier addressed former Gators’ quarterback Jalen Kitna’s arrest during the team’s bowl game media availability. It was the first time Napier has spoken to media since Kitna’s arrest Nov. 30. 

“Obviously it's a sad, tragic event for all the people involved here,” Napier said. “We've done everything we can do to help our players and staff … We are turning the page and moving forward.”

Gainesville police arrested Kitna after a monthslong investigation from the Internet Crimes Against Children division. Kitna’s since posted his $80,000 bail and relocated to his family home in Texas while awaiting trial. 

The former quarterback faces five charges of child pornography and distribution of child exploitation. He was dismissed from the team Dec. 2 following his arrest.

Kitna had been using social media — primarily Discord — to share child pornography materials. He shared images of pubescent girls to another user. Kitna told investigators he believed the photos were legal but realized they shouldn’t have been sent based on the other user’s reaction, according to the arrest report.

Napier and the football program were as caught off guard by the arrest as the public, Napier said.

“We found out mid-morning the day it all went down,” he said. “Literally as it was happening.”

Kitna signed with the Gators as a three-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. The son of longtime NFL quarterback John Kitna, he was recruited to Gainesville by former Florida head coach Dan Mullen.

After redshirting in 2021, Kitna served as Anthony Richardson’s backup. The redshirt freshman played in four games this past season.

Florida will move on with redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Miller III in the Gators’ bowl game against Oregon State. Thursday, Napier announced the Ohio State transfer as the starter against the Beavers.

Miller injured his hand before the season and lost his backup spot behind the professional-bound Richardson but has been healthy and practiced with the team since midseason. This will be his first collegiate start.

Florida will play OSU in the Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Topher Adams

Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.

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