By MARK LONG
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida defensive back John Huggins has been dismissed from the football program.
A team spokesman declined to say what prompted the sophomore’s dismissal. Huggins had missed all of preseason camp while dealing with what the Gators called a “family issue.”
According to a police report released earlier this week, a 19-year-old University of Florida student accused Huggins of choking her during a tutoring session last October. Huggins was upset because the tutor took his phone in hopes of ensuring he would stay for the entire session, the report said.
The woman had previously been uncomfortable because Huggins pulled her hair in another session, the report said. She did not pursue a criminal case, and no charges were filed from the battery complaint.
Coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday that Huggins was punished; he missed five games following the alleged incident and is currently enrolled at the school. Mullen added that Huggins’ most recent absence had nothing to do with the alleged incident in October.
Nonetheless, the latest police report meant three of Mullen’s players and one of his assistants have been named in incidents involving violence against women in a span of seven months.
No charges were filed in any of those cases. Three of the four men have since left the program, and Huggins likely will follow them out the door.
“Obviously, I’m a big anti-violence against women person,” Mullen said. “I’m also a person that I really want to have all of the information as I make decisions and what happens in different situations and that’s one of the toughest deals.”
Quarterback Jalon Jones, defensive back Brian Edwards and assistant director of player personnel Otis Yelverton have left the program following incidents involving accusations of violence or threats of violence against women.
Mullen also had a recruit, cornerback Justin Watkins, leave the team last summer following his second arrest in 10 weeks. Watkins’ girlfriend said he punched, slapped and choked her in an on-campus dormitory, according to police.
“My job as a head coach is not to go in and investigate all that,” Mullen said. “I have to manage the situation, manage my players on those types of things and let the university process play or the legal process play its course.”
Huggins was one of the team’s breakout players during spring practice.