Meyer: NCAA restrictions make it tougher to judge character

Updated: May 15, 2008, 9:43 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Are recruiting restrictions making it harder for college coaches to judge the character of their recruits? Florida coach Urban Meyer suggested as much on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Gators booster event in Miami -- less than a week after one of his players was kicked off the team after being charged with allegedly using the credit card of a woman killed in an accident -- Meyer said restrictions on contact with recruits hinder his ability to measure their character.

''The NCAA is pulling us off the recruiting process,'' he said, in comments reported by South Florida media outlets. "I'm not allowed to go out [to visit players] anymore. I'm not allowed to text message. I'm trying to find out as best I can. You just keep re-evaluating.

"If you just look around and see some of the things that are going on, it's amazing. It's concerning. It's alarming," Meyer said. "So we take a great deal of time and effort in trying to educate guys, work with them and recruit character. Are we perfect? Absolutely not."

Last week, Meyer kicked Florida safety Jamar Hornsby off the team after Hornsby turned himself in to face charges of credit card theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. Hornsby is alleged to have used the credit card of Florida student Ashley Slonina -- who was killed in an October motorcycle accident along with Gators walk-on Michael Guilford -- starting the day after Slonina died.

But Meyer, who faced a rash of incidents involving his team during the 2006-07 offseason, defended his program Wednesday, noting the charges against Hornsby are the first and only run-in with the law his team has had during the current offseason.

"I can assure you one incident is not going to offset five great months as we get ready for the 2008 season," Meyer said.

"It's a shame that one person had to steal away from what the other 104 guys are doing,'' he added. "We had the highest GPA in University of Florida football history. We had 58 [players] that had over a 3.0."

Hornsby, who has played the last two seasons mostly on special teams, has had two prior off-field problems during his Florida career. He was cited in April 2007 on misdemeanor criminal mischief charges when he caused $750 damage to a car by throwing a man onto the vehicle's hood during a fight. He also was suspended from playing in last year's game against Georgia for selling his tickets to the game, a violation of NCAA rules.

Meyer acknowledged he had been lenient with Hornsby, noting that over his career, he has given first-time offenders second chances.

Of his emotions on learning Hornsby had been arrested, Meyer said: "It's anger and you just have to reevaluate how you're doing."

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