In the past two weeks, Wake Forest has suspended eight players for various issues relating to violations of team rules. And in those two weeks, Wake Forest has lost to Duke 34-27 and Maryland 19-14 to slip to 1-3 in ACC play.
Coach Jim Grobe and director of athletics Ron Wellman felt like they owed Demon Deacon fans some sort of explanation, so they sent out an open letter to fans, students and media apologizing for their players' lack of judgment and the adverse effect it's had on the team.
As a loyal supporter of our football program, you deserve to know the reasons for the decisions that have been made over the last couple of weeks about some players on our team. The off-the-field incidents have been embarrassing to all of us and it is important that you understand our approach to matters like this. We want you to know that we do not minimize the seriousness of these matters.
Parents understand that children do make mistakes and sometimes do things that are seemingly self-centered or amazingly thoughtless. We can assure you that we never take a young man into our program without recommendations from coaches, teachers, counselors, and school administrators. Recruiting is certainly not an exact science and we diligently try to bring student-athletes to Wake Forest who will try their best to do what is right both on and off the field.
Coaches are teachers. Everyone in our program takes that role very seriously. A primary goal is to develop our players for life after school and football. The hardest decisions a coach has to make are those that may sacrifice winning a game in order to teach a player that making good decisions and caring for others are more important.
Cornerback Merrill Noel, linebacker Mike Olson, guard Frank Souza, safety Daniel Mack, who were all starters, and running back Deandre Martin and wide receiver Airyn Willis, who were backups, were suspended Oct. 5 for what the Winston-Salem Journal reported as a failed drug test.
All of those players could return for this weekend's game at Virginia.
On Saturday, safety Duran Lowe and tackle Devin Bolling were suspended for violating athletic department rules. According to the paper, Lowe was charged with possession with intent to sell marijuana, and Bolling was charged with possession.
Wake Forest is 3-3 this season and could still make a bowl game, though it will be difficult with some tough games still remaining on the schedule. Still, you have to respect the way Grobe is trying to manage his program, even if the Demon Deacon's record takes a hit.
Parents are most heartbroken when their children make foolish decisions but coaches run a close second. We are disappointed in the behavior of a few of our players but feel that our team will grow from the experience. Lost in the distractions of a few are the overwhelming number of players who are working hard to be the best each and every day.
We want to assure you that every decision we make in our football program and throughout our Athletic Department is with the future and well-being of Wake Forest and our student-athletes at heart. Winning is VERY important but it will not be pursued at the expense of our integrity. Our players need a reminder sometimes that their commitment to football extends beyond the practice field. We want our players to look back years from now and know that they were more important to us than winning a football game.