Zook Denies Meyer's Allegations

Illinois coach Ron Zook strongly denied implications from Urban Meyer that the Florida football program he inherited from Zook in 2005 was wrought with hazing and mistreatment of freshman football players. Zook learned last night of the comments that Meyer made after a Gators' practice.

"I was surprised to see that, once again, five years later, we're blamed for something else at Florida," Zook said. "But by now I guess I shouldn't be. This one was most disappointing because it implies we didn't look out for our players. From someone who wasn't there at the time. I can assure you I've never, ever been accused of that. I thought (they said) I was too much of a players coach."

Zook took most exception to the allegations of hazing and intimidation of freshmen, something he said he strongly detests. In fact, he was quoted a few days earlier in a Champaign News-Gazette story about freshmen how he disallows hazing.

"The implication is incorrect," Zook said. "There is no place for hazing in college football and we've put a stop to that if we've ever seen it."

According to the Gainesville Sun website, Meyer took jabs at the team's record against rivals and talked about the mistreatment, saying that before he got there that older players: "treated the freshmen like they were non-people —‘Don't walk through here, we'll kick your tail and shave your eyebrows.'Let's get our brains kicked in by our rivals, but let's go beat up a freshman.' "

Meyer also said that since his staff has been in place, the problem has been corrected.

"Now, I have a freshman that's really going through some hard times," Meyer was quoted as saying. "He stood up in front of the team the other day with tears rolling down his cheeks and he said, ‘I really want to thank the older guys for taking care of me.' That's called a team."

Zook seemed amused at the chronology of Meyer's assertion -- that the mistreatment was rampant under him but has been totally corrected under Meyer.

"I applaud Florida for fostering what they say is a wonderful family atmosphere" he said. "I would invite anyone to talk to any of our players here at Illinois and, although we don't look for media opportunities to brag about it, it is a wonderful family atmosphere."

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