The head coach of Florida Atlantic University’s football team resigned after allegations of marijuana and cocaine use.
Two individuals came forward claiming they each witnessed Coach Carl Pelini use the illicit substances. One is Matt Edwards, the defensive line and special teams’ coach at Florida Atlantic University, or FAU. Edwards also served as the assistant to former defensive coordinator, Pete Rekstis, who also resigned from FAU’s football program. Edwards says that he personally saw Coach Pelini use marijuana and cocaine within the last 12 months, and part of his official statement said that he saw Carl Pelini smoke marijuana in Key West on October 19, 2013.
The other person claiming to have seen Pelini’s drug use is Allison Stewart, who is also connected to FAU’s athletic program. She claims to have seen Pelini smoke marijuana on October 19th and to have a text message from the coach saying that he “uses drugs on occasion.”
When FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun found out about the drug allegations, he spoke with his head football coach. Apparently Carl Pelini immediately resigned after being presented with the evidence of his drug use, which included an affidavit signed by Matt Edwards and Allison Stewart. Pelini’s official resignation came on October 30th followed by a press conference with Pat Chun announcing the change, alluding to drug use, and saying it is unacceptable.
Later, it came out that Chun was letting Pelini go for reasons not tied directly to any illegal drug use. Apparently at one point Pelini denied all accusations and offered to take a drug test. ESPN then reported that Pelini actually refused the test when Chun said it would be done immediately, on the spot. Pelini came back to say that he no longer wanted to resign. In his words, “I respectfully withdraw my resignation letter on the basis that it was forced and not voluntary. I am confident the investigation will show that the allegations against me were false, that I did not fail to supervise my staff, and that I am entitled to continue as FAU’s head football coach.”
What is the real story?
When drugs are involved, the truth can become very blurred. Denial is a major component of drug addiction and alcoholism, so if Carl Pelini has been abusing marijuana and cocaine regularly, his perception of the problem may not be accurate.
At the same time though, without accurate proof, does the FAU football team have the right to fire the team’s head coach? What evidence, without a drug test, do they have of drug use? Is it enough that Coach Pelini would not take the test, or does he have the right to take it at a later date?
Drug and alcohol use is tricky. When a man is hired to coach a team of college students, you certainly do not want him impaired by any mind-altering substance, but what the coach does in his personal life is not necessarily his employer’s business. Does a coach have to report alcohol use when he is not working?
Marijuana and cocaine are illegal and alcohol is not, so that distinction makes a difference. Were the rules that govern the coaching position at FAU included in Pelini’s contract? Did the coach know that he was violating the rules of his employment?
For anyone abusing marijuana and cocaine to a point where negative consequences, like losing a job, are happening, seeking professional help is very necessary. If Carl Pelini had sought help for his illicit drug use, he may still be Coach Pelini.
Do you, or someone you love, need help for drug or alcohol abuse? Contact Balboa Horizons today to find out where to start.