Sports

Pelini Claims He Never Used Drugs, Wants FAU Job Back

Carl Pelini. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Carl Pelini. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

MIAMI (AP) — Carl Pelini wants his job back at Florida Atlantic, asking school officials to rescind the resignation letter that he now claims he was forced to sign after being confronted with allegations that he used illegal drugs.

Pelini, who was FAU’s head coach for 20 games, said he denied using the drugs, later identified in other documents as marijuana and cocaine. When FAU announced his resignation Oct. 30, athletic director Patrick Chun said Pelini and now-former defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis both acknowledged that they used drugs.

“I denied using illegal drugs three times,” Pelini, who was 5-15 with the Owls, wrote in a letter Thursday to three FAU officials.

Chun released a statement through an athletic department spokeswoman, saying he stands “by my statement and decision from last week.”

“We had ample evidence to support the charges that we confronted both coaches with,” said Chun, who declined further comment.

Pelini’s attorney did not return a message Thursday.

Last week, two days after Pelini’s resignation was announced, the situation took a turn when school officials released sworn affidavits from two people — including FAU assistant coach Matt Edwards — alleging drug use. Edwards wrote that he witnessed Pelini smoking marijuana in Key West on Oct. 19, the Saturday of an off week for the Owls. Another person, Allison Stewart, also said she got a text message from Pelini where he admitted drug use.

Pelini said that when he was confronted by Chun, he told him that Edwards and Stewart “had strong motive to have me removed” from his job. He has not specified what he believes those motives to be.

Pelini’s contract specified that if he used “any narcotics, drugs, or other controlled substances” he could be subject to firing. His resignation was effective immediately. Rekstis’ resignation is not effective until Dec. 31, though he no longer is part of the coaching staff.

Pelini had a base annual salary of $472,500, according to FAU’s most recently released payroll data. Rekstis was making $145,000 and Edwards is making $90,272 annually.

Pelini called FAU a “dream job” and said reinstatement would allow him to continue building the program and clear his tarnished name. The Owls are 1-0 under interim coach Brian Wright.

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