In letter to fans, Wake Forest addresses athletes’ troubles

Football coach, AD discuss off-the-field issues on website

ctudor@newsobserver.comOctober 16, 2012 

Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman and football coach Jim Grobe issued an open letter to fans Monday on the school’s website.

Addressed – to some degree – was the matter of recent football suspensions. Six players were suspended for the Deacons’ 19-14 loss at Maryland on Oct. 6. The defeat left Wake 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC.

Then on Saturday, Grobe announced that two more players – junior safety Duran Lowe and junior offensive lineman Devin Bolling – have been dismissed for the remainder of the season.

Although no reason was given, the Winston-Salem Journal reported both were arrested and charged with marijuana violations by the city police department on Oct. 9.

Suspended for the game against Maryland were linebacker Mike Olson, running back Deandre Martin, wideout Airyn Willis, guard Frank Souza and defensive backs Merrill Noel and Daniel Mack. Their status for Saturday’s game against Virginia (2-5, 0-3) has not been announced.

ACC champs in 2006, the Deacons were picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Division this season.

Following is the letter:

Dear Demon Deacon Fans,

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. 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.

Thank you for all your support and loyalty to our program! We look forward to sharing many wonderful moments with you in the future.

Go Deacs!

Jim Grobe & Ron Wellman

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