A beloved, longtime hockey coach and former star at the University of Minnesota resigned from his post with a high school program in suburban Minneapolis so he could speak out against "bullying" from "helicopter parents" that he claimed had him on the brink of losing his sanity.
As reported in detail by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press and a variety of other Minnesota outlets, Roseville (Minn.) High boys hockey coach Jeff Pauletti resigned on Tuesday amidst renewed accusations of bullying and intimidation within his own program. The coach has repeatedly denied those accusations, and took things further at a school board meeting a day after his resignation by claiming he himself was bullied by a group of rogue parents who wanted him out of his job.
The unnamed group of parents succeeded, though Pauletti presented a series of emails praising him and advocating for safeguards to protect coaches from overly aggressive parental influence.
"I'm not very happy about the whole situation," Pauletti told the Star Tribune. "But in order to state my piece and keep my sanity and keep my health, I think it was the right decision [to resign].
"In order to address the issues in a public forum, I had to resign. I stepped down because I felt I needed to tell my side of the story. If I did not resign and told my story, I would be fired."
The opportunity to fire Pauletti never emerged because of his self-imposed resignation, but an internal Roseville school district investigation into Pauletti's program continues apace. Pauletti insisted that the ongoing investigations would clear his name and prove once and for all that he and his staff never did anything improper.
"I don't know if I have been vindicated, but I have been able to speak my piece to administrators, attorneys and the people of Roseville," Pauletti said. "I have spoken to them about everything. The weight of the world is off my shoulders now. I would love to coach again at Roseville, but the administration has to do something to put things in place to protect coaches and avoid these kinds of investigations where there is nothing to investigate."
Whether Pauletti gets the chance to coach again in Roseville or elsewhere remains to be seen, but the accusations he raises about parents of athletes in the program -- if true -- are troubling both for the suburban Minnesota school and other similar districts around the nation. While a heightened sensitivity to bullying and hazing are certainly proper in light of continued problems with the practice in prep sports, the idea that a group of parents could fabricate such allegations is equally troubling.
No matter what the investigation into Pauletti's seven-year rein with the program turns up, one side or the other will be left in extreme embarrassment and serious questions of impropriety to answer. And that's not a good thing for anyone in Roseville going forward.