Hey, who doesn’t enjoy a good press release issued at 6:16pm Central time a week before Christmas?
That’s what Marquette did on December 16th, announcing that head women’s soccer coach Frank Pelaez was stepping down, effective immediately. Pelaez was head coach for four seasons at Marquette, following in the footsteps of his former boss, Markus Roeders, and Pelaez amassed a record of 27-29-8 in that time.
Here’s athletic director Bill Scholl on the change:
“I want to thank Frank for his contributions, dedication, and loyalty to Marquette over nearly 25 years with the program,” Scholl said. ”I wish him, his wife Melissa and the entire family the best of luck in the future.”
Pelaez was an assistant coach and associate head coach with the program from 1996 through 2014. He left for a similar position with Loyola Chicago, and served there until he was hired by Bill Scholl in 2019 to replace Markus Roeders when Roeders announced his resignation shortly after that year’s season ended.
Pelaez was obviously dealt a poor hand by the world in general, as his first season was supposed to be the fall 2020 season, which was scrubbed by COVID-19 and timeshifted to the spring. He went 6-4-0 in that season, followed by a 9-8-0 campaign in the fall of 2021 and then 7-7-4 in 2022. Marquette seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough under Pelaez’s guidance after totaling just 10 wins in Roeders’ final two years and knocking on the door of qualifying for the conference tournament over and over again, but things did not go that way in 2023. This fall, Marquette went just 5-10-4 overall with a 2-6-2 mark in Big East play, missing the conference tournament for the fourth straight time on Pelaez’s watch. MU lost their final three matches of the season and were winless in the final seven, getting shutout in all five of the losses in that run and 11 times in total during the year.
It was, quite simply, whatever the opposite of a breakthrough is.
Now, we have to acknowledge the fact that this news comes to us a little over seven weeks after the season ended with a 3-0 loss at Xavier. This isn’t the usual “yeah, this isn’t working out, let’s go in a new direction” situation, or at least the window dressing on it makes it appear that this is not that. Look what happened with Louis Bennett on the men’s soccer side earlier this year. Marquette finished their season on October 28th, and then Bennett’s departure from the program was announced on November 1st. Nice and clean, we’re all moving on with our lives.
That’s not what’s happening here. It’s December 16th. Heck, it’s been well over a month since the MU WSOC Twitter posted about Pelaez and assistant coach Erin Scott heading to Arizona to do some scouting and recruiting. You don’t do that — post about it or even make the trip at all — if there’s even an inkling that there’s going to be a change in leadership in the not distant future, much less five weeks later. It’s hard not to be curious as to what precisely happened here, particularly since Marquette announced this news at dinnertime on a Saturday night. That’s not how you normally do things.
The press release says that “a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.” With the women’s soccer national championship game being played nearly two weeks ago, hopefully the timing on this doesn’t put Scholl into an uncomfortable position when it comes to figuring out who is going to take the job.