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Baseball players and assistant coaches at the University of Fl

April 19, 1986

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Baseball players and assistant coaches at the University of Florida Friday expressed surprise at head Coach Joe Arnold’s alcohol problems and determination not to let that shock ruin their already disappointing season.

Arnold took a leave of absence Thursday to check into a rehabilitation center in Georgia.

″I was kind of shocked,,″ said shortstop Tim Touma. ″We had a team meeting (Thursday) and nobody knew what it was about. I walked out of the place after we were informed and had to just go home and think about what we’d just been told.″

Assistant coach Dusty Rhodes, who will lead the team in Arnold’s absence, said he had no indication Arnold had an alcoholism problem, but he said he can sympathize with his boss.

″The pressure here on every coach at the University of Florida is even tougher because you have a situation where you’re the state university,″ he said. ″Maybe some guys feel it a little more than others.″

Arnold is in his third year at Florida, after leading the Gators to consecutive 43-win seasons. The 1986 Gators are 20-22 with 11 games left in the regular season.

Nine of those games are in the Southeastern Conference, giving the Gators, who are 8-10 in the league, a chance of salvaging a spot in the SEC tournament.

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