It has been quite a while since we’ve heard from former Florida Atlantic head coach Carl Pelini. For those who don’t remember, Pelini resigned in October amidst allegations of illegal drug use. Pelini vehemently denied the allegations of drug use, and then a report came out in late November stating that Pelini was fired for “not reporting the conduct of his staff members.”
The whole thing was a big mess, and Pelini had not publicly commented on the situation until an interview Sports Illustrated was published Wednesday. Now Pelini said a former member of his staff made the drug allegations because Pelini “suspected (the staff member) was engaged in an inappropriate relationship.”
“This is embarrassing for me personally and professionally,” Pelini said. “There is a perception of me out there that’s not me. It’s such a 180-degree perception of who I am as a person.”
Here’s how it all went down.
Matt Edwards, a former defensive assistant, signed an affidavit that claimed he saw Pelini and then-FAU defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis use marijuana and cocaine on a trip to Key West in mid-October. Allison Stewart, a woman who was also on the trip, also “provided an affidavit in which she said she saw Pelini smoke marijuana and admitted in a text message to her that he ‘uses drugs on occasion.’”
Pelini suspected that Edwards and Stewart lied because he confronted them because he thought the two were having an affair and “neither denied it.”
“I was worried about how it would reflect on our program,” Pelini said.
Both Edwards and Stewart were contacted by Sports Illustrated. Edwards declined to comment about the alleged relationship. Stewart “reiterated her claim that she had witness Pelini using drugs” and later denied the affair in a text message.
Three days after the trip, FAU athletic director Pat Chung met with Pelini after a practice and subsequently informed him of his dismissal an hour later. Chung told SI that Pelini offered to resign “immediately,” but he “declined to take a drug test.”
Pelini had a different account:
Pelini said Chung told him the results of a drug test didn't matter and that he was being asked to step down for failure to supervise. Pelini said Chung then told him that if he signed a letter of resignation Chung would make it clear that the circumstances were outside of Pelini's control and that he would provide Pelini with good recommendation for employment elsewhere. But then in a statement about Pelini and Rekstis' resignations delivered to the media, Chung cited "reports relating to their use of illegal drugs.
After some legal negotiations between FAU and Pelini’s attorneys, the school gave Pelini a letter that states that “his resignation was withdrawn and he was terminated because he ‘failed to timely report certain conduct of a member of your staff, as required under your contract.’”
After all of that, Pelini has understandably had some trouble finding his next coaching gig. He is moving back to Nebraska, where his brother Bo is the head coach of the Cornhuskers.
“I just want the truth out there,” Pelini said. “This story created an image of me that I have this extravagant social life, but in reality I have a pretty Spartan life.”
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- Carl Pelini