July 1, 2014 / 6:59 PM / 5 years ago

Former NFL star Hernandez, facing murder charges, featured in calendar

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez (R) smiles while speaking with his defense attorney Charlie Rankin before a hearing in Suffolk Superior Court before a hearing in Boston, Massachusetts, June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Steven Senne/Pool

(Reuters) - Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who has traded the gridiron for the courtroom as he faces charges of murdering three men, is featured as the July image in a calendar approved by his alma mater, the University of Florida, before he was charged, a university spokesman said on Tuesday.

“People are just finding it now because they’re flipping over to July,” said University of Florida spokesman Daniel Apple.

The calendar was produced by a third-party licensee and approved by school officials in spring 2013, before Hernandez’s June 2013 arrest on charges murdering semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, Apple said.

It is one of thousands of products the school licenses each year, from clothing to stuffed animals to coffee mugs, Apple said. It isn’t clear how many of the calendars were printed or how much money the school made off them, he added.

The school lacks the authority to recall the existing calendars but has notified the calendar maker that it no longer approves of it, he said.

Response to the gaffe on social media was more amusement than outrage, with documentary filmmaker Billy Corben quipping on Twitter that Hernandez could use the calendar to keep track of his court dates.

Hernandez, who had a contract worth about $40 million at the time of his arrest, is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges stemming from the Lloyd killing. He has also been charged with gunning down two men he met at a Boston nightclub in 2012.

Prosecutors have charged that Hernandez grew so angry when a drink was spilled on him that he tracked down and shot dead Cape Verde nationals Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Hernandez has denied all three murders. The Patriots cut ties with the former tight end hours after his arrest.

Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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