Florida's team physician is denying statements attributed to him that university officials failed to drop guard Vernon Maxwell from the team despite testing positive for drugs three times, a published report says.

The Tampa Tribune, in Wednesday's editions, quoted Dr. Richard Shaara as saying he was misquoted a day earlier by the St. Petersburg Times.The Times, in its Tuesday editions, quoted Shaara as saying that Maxwell, now a starting guard for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, should have been suspended for his entire senior season, according to school policy and the recommendation of a counselor who ran its drug-testing program.

Shaara said he was misquoted and his comments were taken out of context in the Times story, according to the Tribune report, adding that Shaara said the quotes about Maxwell in the Times story "weren't even close" to what he actually said.

Shaara was quoted as saying in the Times' story that he and athletic director Bill Arnsparger overruled Dr. Thomas C. Harrison Jr. after Maxwell tested positive for illegal substances three times before his senior season, and decided to limit his punishment to a three-game suspension.

Arnsparger said he could not comment because the matter was subject to a gag order imposed by a federal judge overseeing a grand-jury probe of drug allegations at the school.

Maxwell, who helped the Gators to a 23-12 season and became Florida's all-time leading scorer that year, flunked a drug test administered by the NCAA during the 1987-88 national championship tournament.