The University of Florida is taking drastic steps to distance itself from former football player Aaron Hernandez, the man recently charged with murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. Although Hernandez is yet to be convicted, the university is working to erase any association with the former All-American.
According to ESPN, the last visible piece commemorating Hernandez's achievements as a Gator, the 2009 All-American honorary brick on Gator Walk outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, was removed on Thursday.
Since the news of Lloyd's death broke, the university has tried to remove all photos, posters — and now bricks — associated with Hernandez.
"We didn't feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez," the University of Florida said in a statement. "We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this [brick removal] was a more complex process to complete with our vendors. The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July."
Although since the charges on Hernandez have not been proven, the permanent brick removal might be seen as an error if he is found innocent.
"Certainly removing the brick outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium today, that's the most significant move that they've made," Brett McMurphy, ESPN college football reporter, said. "If he is innocent they went about this whole thing perhaps in error. But I think they want to make a strong statement that they're distancing themselves as much as possible."
Hernandez is being held without bail after he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Whitney O'Bannon is a new media sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow on Twitter at @whitney_oban.
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