Jim McElwain: Florida coaches, players, families being threatened by fans

By Adam Silverstein
October 23, 2017
Jim McElwain: Florida coaches, players, families being threatened by fans

The Florida Gators will be a massive underdog to the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as Georgia will be 14-point favorites entering the game, the largest spread for the Bulldogs in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party since at least the 1980s. Florida is coming off losing consecutive games at home and reeling in its third season under Jim McElwain. It is for these reasons — among others — that the natives are getting restless.

But being angry is one thing; issuing threats to individuals involved in athletic competitions is another.

McElwain explained Monday at his weekly press conference that death threats have been sent to Gators coaches, players and families this season.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are. There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there,” he said.

“And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

McElwain preferred not to answer multiple follow-up questions about the present situation, though he did seem to indicate that none of the threatening parties were turned over to law enforcement, suggesting that such vitriol — even to these absurd, extreme levels — comes with the job.

“Here’s the one thing: You’re in the business, so that’s all part of it. You get it. It’s one thing when it’s directed towards your players, directed towards families, wives, that kind of thing. And yet, at the same time, they know what they signed up for as well. And that’s part of the business,” he said.

The program released a statement later Monday that it followed up with McElwain about his comments but explained why no further action could be taken at this time.

“The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously,” read a UAA statement released to multiple media outlets. “Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon, and he offered no additional details.”

While McElwain may be right that one in his position needs to be prepared for such circumstances, that obviously does not make it acceptable in any way, shape or form. And McElwain is far from the first coach to be threatened in such a way. He’s not even the only SEC coach to have to deal with something similar this season.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin received hate mail, including a racial slur, at his home following his team’s one-point loss to UCLA to open the season. “You suck as a coach! You’re a n—– and can’t win. Please get out or else,” read the letter, which was posted to Twitter by his wife.

A week later, Sumlin’s wife explained that the letter was turned over to law enforcement, but local police “hit a dead end because evidently the letter didn’t fit the criteria needed … to prosecute it as a threat, or a hate crime or a violation of civil rights.” However, an investigation was ongoing.

“Our lives are not defined and our happiness is not determined by this game,” added Charlene Sumlin. “We are stronger than that.”

Fans should keep that in mind.


  1. senuod says:

    If, you as a Florida Fan, go so low as to threaten the lives or health of any coach, player, or friend/loved one associated with these people then move tf on. We’re all incredibly frustrated with this season, but inject some realism into your head. Look at the circumstances that have fallen on us this season, and look forward to the next game.

    There are still positives. SOMEHOW we currently still have the #1 ranked 2018 recruit class in the SEC.

    • 1974Gator says:

      The word I’ve heard is – #1 2019 class, #2 in SEC and #8 in nation 2018. Both are wonderful news.

    • John says:

      Let’s not assume it was a Gator Fan as agitated as many are. A lot of other fans troll rivals and stir stuff up.

      It could have been a disgruntled fan, or some punk prankster that’s not even a Gator at all.

  2. Michael says:

    How will we ever attract good players and coaches to our program with some of our “fans” acting like this… Maybe one day they will consider that before opening their mouths!

  3. G2 says:

    Should this have even been shared by coach Mac?

    Makes the fan base look worse than it is. Yes everyone is frustrated but who didn’t see this coming. A defense depleted by early defections, team loaded with freshman DB’s, a freshman at QB, a suspect OL, the list goes on. Then to pile on with 9 suspensions, then key injuries.

    Yes, we probably get spanked pretty good this week and hey its just one year, right? We owned them for so long people forget the misery of the 80’s when we lost 80% of the time.
    What is most concerning is they are loading up on 4 & 5* guys and look like Bama 2 while we are falling apart, now death threats? This may cost us some recruits depending on the backlash.

    Hoping some details emerge on this latest development, its getting embarrassing.

  4. Ron says:

    So, your family, who you are responsible for, and your players, who you are responsible for, are getting death threats. You don’t notify anyone in the athletic administration nor law enforcement? Why? If it’s true, it’s grossly negligent to not act on the info. Or he made it up. And now the administration is asking and you refuse additional info? I’m thinking he’s right now sitting with his attorney and a PR person fabricating some plausible story that cannot be verified. “someone yelled it out their car window, I didn’t get a good look at the car but it looked like a Toyota or Honda or Chevy and was grey, green, or blue”.

  5. HoneyBeez says:

    Part of the UAA released statement,“Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon, and he offered no additional details.”
    Wait… what? Is he being thrown under the bus? Why would he even make a comment on something that serious, but not speak with the proper authorities? This is not looking good for Mac. Here we go again with the distractions… *sigh*

  6. 1974Gator says:

    I get it, there are morons that call themselves Gators in our midst doing nasty stuff and talking smack. That said, I’m not sure that Mac should have made a public statement about the incident/incidences. Giving a sick person credibility by acknowledging their lunacy is just what the idiots want to see happen. It’s not the best news for our recruits to hear about either!

  7. SW FL Joe says:

    I cannot think of a logical reason why he wouldn’t cooperate with his employer about this. For what it’s worth, he seemed way more upset about the shark picture than these death threats against the players, coaches and families. Odd.

  8. 1974Gator says:

    After further reflection, thinking out loud, 1) maybe he is trying to use the “threats” to create an untenable environment that could allow him to leave w/o a buyout, 2) maybe Stricklin makes an issue about what may be “false news”, fires Mac for cause, not owing him the $s remaining in his contract and hires his buddy Dan Mullen, OR 3) this whole thing was started by a Dawg/Nole/Vol troll to create havoc among our 2018 and 2019 recruits. As I said in my earlier post with this article, it may have been better if Mac said nothing about what is probably the work of just one (or two) morons.

  9. Fatback says:

    Ok, I’m sorry…I just said “I would kill to have Spurrier back”. This is not what I meant.

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