Avery Atkins Released From UF Football Team

GatorCountry.com Managing Editor
Posted Jun 29, 2006


Avery Atkins' career as a Florida Gator has come to an end as of Thursday afternoon. The rising sophomore cornerback from Daytona Beach Mainland, who was suspended indefinitely by Coach Urban Meyer after he was involved in a domestic violence incident that occurred on June 17, was given his release by Coach Urban Meyer.

In a one sentence statement to the University of Florida Sports Information Department, Meyer stated: "After a complete evaluation, we have granted Avery Atkins his release from the University of Florida football program."

Atkins came to Florida from Mainland, where he was a four-star (by Scout.com) recruit and one of the real gems of Meyer's first recruiting class at Florida in February of 2005. He spent most of the 2005 season as a key reserve at corner and playing special teams. He earned a start at cornerback in Florida's 34-7 regular-season ending victory over Florida State, a game in which he recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass.

He was expected to start in 2006 but troubles began surfacing during spring football practice. He had two excellent weeks of practice but then was noticeably absent. It was reported that he was taking care of some personal business back home in Daytona Beach but that his status was fine with the team.

The personal business turned out to be the birth of the child he has with Benarah Sanford, the woman who has alleged in a charging affidavit to the Daytona Beach Police Department that Atkins struck her in the face in excess of 13 times in that June 17 incident. In what became a daily saga of where's Avery, Atkins never returned to spring football practice even though it was reported on more than one occasion that he would be back within a day or so.

After missing the Orange and Blue Game, Meyer announced that Atkins had to do some work to get back in the good graces of the team. Early indications where that Atkins was back in Gainesville, working full time and planning to enroll in Summer B at the University of Florida. However, reports began surfacing that Atkins was under intense pressure from Sanford to leave the University of Florida. Initially, it was thought that Atkins was asking for a release to go to Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach where he could be close to Sanford and the baby, but then came reports that he wanted to transfer to Florida State.

All these problems came to a head on June 17 when Atkins was involved in the incident with Sanford. No arrests were made although a report was taken by the Daytona Beach Police Department. The Daytona Beach Police Department chose to continue the investigation and was hoping to have a face-to-face meeting with Atkins and Sanford at their Daytona Beach headquarters, a meeting that hasn't yet taken place.

According to DBPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Al Tolley, the investigation into the incident continues. In an email to Gator Country Thursday morning, Tolley said there is nothing new to report.

In the days after the incident, Atkins told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he wanted to remain a Florida Gator while in an interview the same day with the Orlando Sentinel he said that he wanted to transfer to Florida State, where Sanford was registered as a student during the recent spring semester. Atkins charged that Meyer was holding him on the team against his will. Meyer, however, said that Atkins family wanted him to remain at the University of Florida. He further stated that he would not release Atkins until he had received all the facts from this most recent incident.

For the past 10 days, there has been no indication what would be the final outcome but Thursday, Thursday, without indicating what he has discovered, Meyer gave Atkins his release from the Florida program. It is not clear at this time whether the release is unconditional and will allow Atkins to transfer to the school of his choice, or if there are conditions, i.e.; he could transfer to all schools except perhaps in-state schools or schools within the Southeastern Conference.


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