Former FAU coach Carl Pelini is seeking reinstatement as the Owls head coach, denying illegal drug use and claiming he was forced to resign.
Pelini told ESPN on Thursday that he did not admit to using illegal drugs, as FAU suggested when the resignation was announced. FAU athletic director Patrick Chun told CBSSports.com that the school received multiple reports of drug use and violations of university policy, which Chun brought to Pelini before his resignation.
"Once people came forward, once we had the facts, what I went to Carl and Pete with were facts," Chun told CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler last week.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday afternoon that Chun flew to Columbus earlier in the day to interview Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, the Buckeyes' 2011 interim head coach. Chun, who spent 15 years working in the Ohio State athletic department, has stressed that he will not comment on the coaching search until a hire has been made.
Chun said the FAU learned about "other violations of university rules" beyond the reported drug use, though has declined to comment citing an ongoing investigation by the school's human resources department.
Pelini told ESPN he was not provided written notice and a 30-day investigation period, as required by his contract. Pelini and Chun also disagree on whether or not the former Owls coach was given the opportunity to take a drug test following the reports of illegal drug use.
According to Pelini, Chun said Pelini's "denial of illegal drug use was irrelevant because I was being relieved of my duties for failure to supervise my staff." Pelini said he "had recently become aware of a personal relationship between a staff member and a person close to the athletic department. The relationship, to my knowledge, did not involve illegal drug use or any other illegal activity."
FAU defensive line coach Matt Edwards and Allison Stewart both confirmed in notarized affidavits that they witnessed Pelini smoking marijuana, and Stewart even said that she received a text message from the coach admitting to drug use.
Pelini also alleges that he was denied the opportunity to contact legal counsel.
This next development in the story is intriguing, but should not come as a surprise with all the human resources-related issues tied to a coaching contract. Pelini's efforts to seek reinstatement make sense legally, but it will be interesting to see how this affects the team -- which upset Tulane on Saturday to improve to 3-6 on the season.