Ted Spiker arrived on campus, parked at the O’Connell Center and walked to his office in Weimer Hall on Thursday morning.
But as he passed the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Complex, he noticed a man with a saw cutting into brick.
“Every once in a while, I’ve passed [Aaron Hernandez’s brick] and thought, ‘Gosh, what’s going to happen with this?’” said the UF journalism professor.
By removing the former Gator’s commemorative All-America brick from outside the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Complex. UF distanced itself from Hernandez, who is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to first-degree murder and five firearms-related charges.
He is also being investigated in connection with a double murder that took place in July 2012. He is also involved in a lawsuit in which he was accused of shooting a man in the right eye.
The University Athletic Association released a statement shortly after images of the brick removal went viral announcing removal of Hernandez mementos from campus areas, including the South Endzone team area, Heavener Complex, Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility.
“We didn’t feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez,” the statement said. “We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility … We were able to implement some of the changes immediately, and this [brick removal] was a more complex process to complete with our vendors. The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July.”
As a junior in 2009, Hernandez was recognized as both a first-team All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection.
He led the Gators in receptions with 68 for 850 yards and five touchdowns, and was awarded the John Mackey Award given annually to college football’s best tight end.
After his junior season, he elected to forgo his final year at Florida to enter the 2010 NFL Draft, where he was selected 113th overall by the New England Patriots.
UF spent last month removing photos of Hernandez around campus.
“It’s a symbolic moment, and it’s a news moment,” Spiker said, “but it’s also one that inspires great debate.”
Contact Chuck Kingsbury at [email protected].
Ed. note: The story originally misstated the location of the brick in one location. It is not at Gator Walk but outside the Heavener Football Complex.