Published Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 4:03 pm
FOOTBALL
Carl Pelini admits drug use, resigns

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis both resigned Wednesday after university officials said they acknowledged using illegal drugs.

FAU received information about the allegations of drug usage by the two coaches on Monday, said Athletic Director Patrick Chun. An investigation began immediately and Chun confronted the coaches on Wednesday, a day when law enforcement officials also visited the school's athletic offices.

Carl Pelini, a defensive coordinator at Nebraska for four years under his brother, Bo, was the head coach at FAU's practice Wednesday morning. By late afternoon, he was gone.

“We hold ourselves to a standard here,” Chun said. “That behavior is unacceptable for a lot of reasons. Like I told our student-athletes today, we all have responsibilities. When you wear the logo of Florida Atlantic University, you wear it 24 hours a day. ... We hold you to a higher standard, and you have to hold yourself to that standard. Decisions were made that ultimately hurt some people, and there's consequences for those decisions.”

Chun said that as of now, neither Pelini nor Rekstis is facing charges. The investigation is continuing, and Chun said that was limiting the amount of information he could publicly reveal, other than the drug usage happened off campus, not at an official school event, not on the team's most recent road trip and that no players were involved.

At NU, Carl Pelini put together the weekly plan while Bo Pelini called the plays from the sideline. Together, Bo and Carl Pelini crafted one of the nation's best defenses in 2009 and 2010. Carl Pelini was also one of NU's better recruiters, spearheading the effort to land quarterback Taylor Martinez, linebacker Lavonte David and safety Daimion Stafford.

After Nebraska's practice Wednesday night, Bo Pelini told The World-Herald he hadn't heard any more about Carl's situation than media outlets had reported. If the reports were accurate, Bo Pelini said, it was “disappointing.”

Carl Pelini left NU in December 2011 to take the Florida Atlantic job. He hired former Nebraska secondary coach Marvin Sanders as his defensive coordinator; two months later, Sanders took a job at USC. Pelini also hired former Husker graduate assistant Ross Watson as his defensive backs coach. In 2013, Pelini hired former Nebraska cornerback Armando Murillo as director of player personnel.

Nebraska's 2014 season opener is scheduled against FAU at Memorial Stadium.

Wednesday, Carl Pelini and Rekstis were not permitted to address the team before leaving campus. Howard Schnellenberger, FAU's founder and longtime coach who still serves as an ambassador for the university, was at Chun's press conference Wednesday, looking crestfallen and sitting in silence.

Offensive coordinator Brian Wright will serve as interim head coach for the Owls, who are 2-6 and host Tulane on Saturday. It's undecided if Wright will also continue serving in the coordinator role. Players were told of the dismissals Wednesday afternoon.

Pelini's resignation was first reported by ESPN. Chun said the rest of the coaching staff remains committed to the program.

“I apologize for exercising poor judgment,” Pelini said in a statement distributed by the school. “My greatest concerns at this time are for my family, the dedicated FAU players and my staff. I am confident that Pat Chun and the University administration will continue to move the program forward.”

Chun said two people came forward initially with information about the drug usage, sparking a need for an investigation. It moved swiftly, and FAU decided Wednesday to confront the coaches after a morning practice. Police were summoned Wednesday, Chun said, “from a safety standpoint” to protect FAU property, but he also indicated that the meetings with the coaches went professionally.

“Once confronted, they resigned,” Chun said.

Pelini was 5-15 at FAU. Even after Wednesday's developments, Chun was complimentary of Pelini and what he was building in Boca Raton, saying he left the program in better shape than when he found it, “in my opinion, at least,” Chun said.

Someone else will have to continue that task. FAU's search for a permanent coach, Chun said, has begun.

“Number one, I'm concerned for our football team,” Chun said. “Obviously, I'm disappointed in Carl and Pete, but my thoughts are more about our kids and our assistant football coaches and what's going through their minds. This is a tough deal for kids, and we've got to help these kids process this. They all looked up to these two guys, and that's a tough place to be.”

Video: FAU press conference

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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