Florida denies report of buyout conversations with coach Jim McElwain

Florida is off to a 3-3 start this season. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
Florida is off to a 3-3 start this season. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Things are a bit tense in Gainesville these days with Florida off to a 3-3 start. Fans (and possibly administration) aren’t exactly happy with head coach Jim McElwain, and his status for 2018 seems very much up in the air.

A trio of tweets Saturday morning from Darren Heitner, a sports agent and Florida alum, suggested the school and McElwain’s representation are working toward a split. Our Pat Forde quickly shot that down, and Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin followed it up with a statement ahead of UF’s game against No. 3 Georgia.

“No one representing the University of Florida or our athletic department has had any conversations with Coach McElwain or his representatives regarding a buyout of his contract,” the statement said. “Our focus is on this great Florida-Georgia rivalry today in Jacksonville.”

Heitner suggested Florida boosters have been “called to pool money” together with the expectation of the school hiring a new coach and that the the two sides — UF and McElwain — are “miles apart” on a potential buyout.

Forde and others have reported that there have not been buyout discussions.

The statement from Stricklin wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence for McElwain, but the school at least felt compelled to put the clamps on any speculation — for today at least.

Saturday’s scuttle comes on the heels of McElwain telling reporters that he, his players and coaches have received threats from fans. His comments were vague and without specifics, and Florida issued an eye-raising statement saying McElwain “offered no additional details.”

“The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with coach McElwain this afternoon and he offered no additional details,” the statement said.

McElwain is in his third season with the Gators and has a 22-11 overall record with two SEC East titles, but his teams have been plagued by lackluster offensive play. That has continued in 2017. UF started the season 3-1 but have dropped two in a row by a combined three points to LSU and Texas A&M — both at home.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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