The 1985 Clemson Steroid scandal

Motivated by an argument with a stupid coot friend, I decided to do some digging into one of the scandals of the '80s that is less mentioned now. The 1980s were to college football what the 1960s were to just about everything else in America. Nearly everyone was on probation or getting investigated. There are always things that go wrong in every football program, and we were no exception. Practically no one was innocent, and though almost everyone was using steroids in the '80s too (remember the huge Congress investigation around 1990), we were one unfortunate enough to have someone die from it. We were clearly guilty of passing out drugs to athletes in all sports, as the coaches named below were not confined to football or track & field, that was just their specialty. (There is no mention of any claim against Coach Ford in any published article)

Fear not, because the University of Steriods and Cocaine did much worse, that post is yet to come. For now I'm only linking the wikipedia page.

On October 19, 1984, a 23 year old track star, Stijn Jaspers, was found dead in his dormroom. While steroids were not named as the cause of death in his autopsy report, they were found in his system. SLED decided to pursue that clue, and uncovered a big mess at Clemson, which was already stuck under NCAA probation at the time. These two stories by SI dated in January 1985 and by the New York Times tell all about it.

Clemson strength coach Sam Colson (former conference champ in track & field) apparently got the drugs from Vandy strength coach Doc Kreis who had used steroids there with the help of a local pharmacist. Kreis was a former Clemson football player himself, who played for Red Parker and Hootie Ingram. Doc Kreis is now widely known as one of the best Strength coaches in college football.

The outcome was that 3 coaches were indicted: Colson, Narewski, and Harkness and ultimately pled guilty.

In March of 1985 (date of that week's article), both Clemson President Bill Atchley and longtime A.D. Bill McLellan were forced to resign their jobs, which was requested by McLellan earlier.

A stormy seven-hour emergency meeting of the Clemson board of trustees ended last week with two announcements: Bill L. Atchley, the university's president since 1979, would resign effective July 1, and Bill McLellan, the athletic director since 1971, would be granted his request for reassignment to a new position. What had prompted these startling developments? By all accounts, Atchley had sought to remove McLellan as head of the university's scandal-ridden athletic department, and some of the 13 trustees didn't like it. As things turned out, McLellan did lose his A.D. job. But the fact that he will be staying at the university in another capacity while Atchley leaves—"to unify the Clemson board of trustees," is how Atchley revealingly put it—was a singular defeat for the idea that university presidents should have the ultimate authority over their schools' athletic departments.


Knowing what happened 4 years later, that last statement is kinda funny.

Although it should be pointed out that the steriods and NCAA scandals were not the only things going wrong in the program, though this one is more of a personal nature than an indictment of the program itself, since it happens everywhere.

After this, an even worse decision was made in promoting the former golf coach, Bobby Robinson to A.D. We were stuck with him til 2002, when he "retired" and was then hired by GT. Bill McLellan ended up at Southern Miss eventually.

And then, finally, the man totally responsible for Ford's dismissal was hired in October.

Lennon was forced out by the BOT in spring of 1994.

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