Florida Coach Jim McElwain suspends two more players for Michigan opener
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) —
No. 17 Florida suspended two more players Wednesday for its season opener against 11th-ranked Michigan, including starting running back Jordan Scarlett.
Scarlett and receiver Rick Wells were suspended indefinitely from all team activities for misusing schools funds, bringing to 10 the total number of Florida players suspended for the game Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
University Police Department spokesman Brad Barber confirmed there is an ongoing investigation regarding credit card fraud involving football players at Florida. But Barber would not discuss names or the number of individuals involved.
“I didn’t expect these,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “I don’t expect any more. But at the same time, if there is, it will be dealt with. Some places, who knows? You might try to figure it out. And yet, at the end of the day, the positive is we’re going to handle what it is and not run and hide.
“As I said before, there are some guys who are going to step up and play their tails off. That will be fun to watch.”
Leading receiver Antonio Callaway and six teammates were suspended Aug. 13 for reportedly purchasing items at the campus bookstore with their student identification cards, which didn’t have sufficient funds for the transactions, and later selling the items for cash.
McElwain said he did not foresee any potential NCAA violations. He even invited NCAA investigators to visit.
“Obviously, when anything happens, one of the things when you do discipline and you call it out and you say it as it is, that’s when usually people go in,” he said. “I invite them in. ‘Come on.’ The one thing I do know is we’re going to handle it and we’re going to handle it right.”
McElwain said he had “a nice discussion” with his players following the initial suspensions, but he stopped short of saying Scarlett and Wells could face more punishment if they tried to cover up their roles in the scam.
“They’re in trouble,” he said. “I don’t know what more is or what less is. What you hope is you learn from the lesson.”
None of those nine will travel to Texas for the game. They won’t be allowed to rejoin the team until the investigation is resolved and restitution has been paid, McElwain said.
McElwain also suspended freshman receiver James Robinson for the opener following a marijuana possession charge last week.
Five of the 10 players have been in trouble before, including Scarlett and Wells.
Scarlett was suspended for the 2016 Citrus Bowl game against Michigan following a marijuana possession charge. Wells was charged with criminal mischief in 2016 for firing a BB gun inside a residence hall. He was suspended for last year’s opener.
“You know, is it concerning?” McElwain said. “You feel bad for them, you know? I think what it shows you is there’s probably a real small population of guys (messing up). But I’ll also be there to help them. I don’t believe you throw anybody away. I don’t believe that. Yet, there will come a time when enough’s enough.
“But at the same time, they’ve been through a lot already. We’ll see that when it’s cleared up.”
Scarlett and Callaway are the most significant players who will be missing from the game. Scarlett, a junior, led the team with 889 yards rushing and six touchdowns last season. Callaway, a junior and the team’s top playmaker, has 89 catches for 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons.
“We’re not afraid to make a decision and we’re not afraid to hide anything,” McElwain said. “We’re not going to put it aside. We’re not going to enable. We’re going to teach lessons. Ultimately, in doing that, you know what, you’re better off for it.”