Pell Says He Agreed to Take Fall at Florida

Charley Pell, the former University of Florida football coach, said he had a secret agreement with school President Marshall Criser to accept the blame for National Collegiate Athletic Assn. charges against the football program, including incidents he didn’t know about.

Pell was fired 4 years ago in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

Breaking a 4-year silence, Pell told the Florida Times-Union that he agreed to accept the blame in exchange for finishing the season and keeping his coaching staff intact.

Criser agreed that a conversation “along those lines” did take place at his home Aug. 26, 1984, but denied that he reached an oral agreement with Pell.


The 21-month NCAA investigation found the school guilty of 59 violations. Florida was placed on probation for 3 years, later reduced to 2, and had its scholarships limited through 1987.

“I kept my mouth shut for 4 years,” said Pell, who works in real estate in Pensacola, Fla. “This isn’t going to make my life easier, nor harder. It’s just that I’m through sitting back.”

Pell said that once he agreed to discuss his NCAA experiences, he had no choice but to reveal the oral agreement because “that’s the reason we never put up a fight.”

Pell said his pact with Criser “was an oral agreement, nothing written.


“My biggest regret is that I gave the public the impression that I knew about everything,” Pell said.

Four days after making the agreement, NCAA investigator Doug Johnson interviewed Pell one final time before preparing the NCAA’s letter outlining the charges against Florida.

“When Doug Johnson came back for his final interview, all he did was ask me a question and I’d say, ‘I did it,’ ” Pell said.

“I stripped myself of a defense with the NCAA when I made the agreement and made admissions to Johnson that, in fact, were not true.

“The NCAA never did get to the whole truth.”

Pell does not contend that his program was completely clean.

“Yes, we made mistakes. We violated rules. I have no qualms about that,” he said.