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Clemson's NCAA Infractions and the truth about Ford-1982.

I will first preface this post by saying that nobody worships Danny Ford more than myself, in my mind he remains on a pedestal no matter what he does. I just think some people should take a long realistic view of what happened in 1982.

I'm doing this post as a clarification of the record for Clemson fans who grew up in the 90s and who continue to spew nonsense about our violations in the 80s that they hear from cockfans and other stupid people. If you want to know, you'll read. If you were there and can give me proof otherwise or as clarification of some points, I welcome your post and will edit accordingly.

We fully deserved the punishment handed out by the NCAA. As to whether we actually shouldve gotten the extra year of penalties from the ACC, I dont know. I think that was bitch move. Know who made the presentation to the ACC to have us put on the extra year? John Swofford.

However, if it was a "bought and paid for championship," as you would hear from detractors and especially Sakerlina fans, then Clemson certainly didn't get its money's worth.

There were two prospects at the heart of the 1982 scandal, James Cofer and Terry Minor. These two guys never enrolled at Clemson. Neither even got into a Div 1 program. We wouldve never heard of them had they not taken gifts, signed with CU, and then try to back out to sign with Tennessee.

In 1980, they were two prep football stars in Knoxville who were allegedly offered cash, cars and other gifts by an overzealous Clemson booster (Buck Breazeale) who lived in the Knoxville area, as well as by Clemson recruiters. One of whom we know was Billy Ware, former letterman under Frank Howard who was a defensive coach on the Clemson staff before moving into the Athletic Department. The other was Willie Anderson, a former Clemson player too, who got Oklahoma State put on probation 10 years later.

They also include the "gave a prospective student-athlete a T-shirt/hat/cheeseburger/ride down the street" crap that you still see now.

Taken as a whole, it's damning, but does it add up to a "bought and paid for championship"? Not even close, especially considering that most of the really bad violations seem to have taken place prior to 1980. Pell departed in 1978 for Florida, another school he led to NCAA sanctions, so it's unclear if the contact with Cofer and Minor began then, when the players were likely sophomores in high school, or later.

In December 1981, with the Tigers ranked No. 1 in the country and prepping for the Orange Bowl game that would give the school its first national championship, Cofer and Minor, with the help of John Mark Hancock, a lawyer who happens to be a UT Booster seeking a $12 million sum from Clemson.

(another TIME article is here)

The suit was filed after the NCAA had been sniffing around Tigertown; this story, dated Nov. 10, 1982, says the ACC had just wrapped up an 18-month probe, which means it would have begun around May 1981, a few months after Cofer and Minor had committed to Clemson. Nonetheless, the timing of the $12 million lawsuit was interesting, nearly one year before NCAA penalties came down.

The lawsuit was dismissed. and Cofer and Minor, viewed as damaged goods by Tennessee and the SEC, ended up much further down the ladder, at some 1-AA school. We believe at least one ended up at Carson-Newman.

The infractions Clemson was found guilty of were awful; the athletic department fully deserved the punishment it received, which included steep reductions in scholarships (from 30 to 20 per) and a ban on TV appearances and postseason bowls for two years.

But if you read the summary (linked below and analyzed to an extent) of the infractions and penalties, you'll see that it does not include forfeiture of any games from 1981. Had these two players actually taken the field, it may not have been the case.

There is no proof that players who may have been given favors or cash were in any way responsible for the Tigers' success in 1981. If there's any out there, please post the link or a source of some kind. Cofer and Minor are the most obvious examples of that and they never even enrolled in Clemson.

Clemson boosters and 2 assistant coaches did do things to convince players to sign, then apparently got "turned in" to the NCAA because they may have out-sleazed another school's alumni and coaches. Many of our problems were recruiting-related. All rumor points to Monte Kiffin, then head coach of NC State (1980-1982), and current DC of the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. This is, of course, similar to the rumor of Phil Fulmer ratting out neither case will we ever truly know. We do know that at that time Clemson pretty much owned NC and SC in recruiting.

The full infraction report from 1982.

Was the probation of 1982 Danny Ford's fault? If so, how much?

The answer is yes, I think its reasonable to put some blame on Danny Ford. Contrary to my own prior beliefs, the major infractions did not all occur under Charley Pell. In fact, a majority of them occured under the early part of Ford's tenure. A large majority were actually perpetrated by Boosters around the program, particularly cash payouts, rides, meals and free gifts of some sort (T-shirts, hats, shoes, etc.). In some cases, the assistant coaches provided their cars for transportation to or from summer camps and recruiting visits.

I'm going to go through the report of 1982 and 1989 separately, beginning with 1982 in this post.

1982: Two assistant coaches that were on the DF staff were named in the 1982 report and put on probation themselves. One was Billy Ware that I can confirm, the other Willie Anderson. At least 4 Boosters were also indicted, one was TN booster Tom "Buck" Breazeale who owns a State Farm Agency, and is a large WEZ donor now who lives in Clemson on the Lake (he's now retired). I am unable to find proof of the names of these people beyond those three. Danny Ford was named twice in the report, but he himself was not put on a probation by the NCAA.

I'm now going to list the infractions that occured directly under Ford, starting from 1979. The biggest violations are the first few, and while some did occur in the 77-78 seasons, the same violations did occur in 1979-1982. Most of which involve the two players, Cofer and Minor, from 1980. I'm separating the infractions by coaches from those by Boosters. Some occured by former assistant coaches, I take this to be either people who were not on the staff in 1982 during the investigation, or coaches who were at Clemson with Pell and left with him or left period (or fired), but had Clemson's interests in their minds.

-During 1980-81, representatives of the university's athletic interests directly assisted a prospective student-athlete and his family in paying four telephone bills.

- a former assistant football coach and a representative of the university's athletic interests offered to provide the mother of a prospective student-athlete transportation to attend the university's football games during her son's enrollment.

Representatives of the athletics interests seems to be the terminology for Boosters in legal parlance, although it could also imply members of the athletic department not on the actual coaching staff. From now on i'll substitute 'booster' for this term. Prospective student-athlete=recruit.

-In December 1979, an assistant football coach provided a recruit local automobile transportation, a meal and made remarks that were reasonably interpreted by the young man to be an offer of an automobile, clothing and cash.

Giving a ride to a recruit anywhere, even from his HS to home, is a violation. This is one that has occurred at Clemson and SC in recent memory.

-During the 1980-81 academic year, a former assistant football coach and a booster gave two recruits cash on numerous occasions.

- In February 1981, the head football coach offered to help find a job for a recruit's mother.

This is the first instance of direct accusation of Danny Ford.

-In the spring and summer of 1979, a former assistant football coach arranged for a recruit to receive medical examinations and treatment for an ankle injury at no cost to the young man.

Horrid. He could've been from a poor family and unable to pay for adequate care. See comments below.

-During January or February 1981, a former assistant football coach mailed a pair of basketball shoes to two recruits.

- During the 1978-79 academic year, a former assistant football coach gave a recruit cash to pay the necessary fee to take a college entrance examination

- In November 1980, an assistant football coach provided a recruit several articles of clothing at no cost to the young man.

- In the fall of 1979, a former assistant football coach gave a white sport shirt to a prospective student-athlete, and numerous recruits have been provided T-shirts, football jerseys or souvenir photographs during visits to the university's campus.

-April 1980, the head football coach, director of athletics and dean of student affairs arranged for the university to pay the cost of a dental bill on behalf of a student-athlete.

Again, horrid. This is the only other mention of Danny Ford directly.

-In the fall of 1981 and again in late February 1982, an assistant football coach telephoned the father of a recruit, which were reasonably interpreted a being request to provide the NCAA false information concerning his son's recruitment by the university.

Somebody lied and tried to cover it up by getting the father to lie to the NCAA. Cam Newton ring a bell?

-In the fall of the 1980-81 academic year, an assistant football coach provided a recruit's father round-trip automobile transportation between his home and the university at the time he accompanied his son on an official paid visit to the university; further, the coach filed a false mileage reimbursement receipt with the university concerning this transportation.

I believe this is stupid, the University can only pay for the recruit on the stay, not the parents who accompany him.

-November 1980, an assistant football coach gave cash to a recruit during his official paid visit to the university for entertainment purposes and later filed a false expense report with the university regarding a meal provided to the young man during this visit.

It couldve been something as simple as the recruit didnt want to eat the supplied food for the official visit, and wanted to go out to a bar instead.

In spring of '79, an assistant football coach contacted a recruit for recruiting purposes at the young man's high school outside the permissible period for in-person recruiting contacts. Again it happened in 1980 several times and in Sept. 1981.

Happens quite often still today.

- During his employment in the university's summer football camp in 1980, an assistant football coach provided local automobile transportation and a meal to approximately 10 recruits; further, following the camp, the coach arranged for two student-athletes to utilize his automobile to travel home for a visit while also providing five recruits transportation home.

Nevermind that they may have lived within 5 miles of his home, or whether the ride provided to the 10 recruits was to or from the meal halls. And it gets sillier...

-In the fall of 1979, an assistant football coach provided round-trip automobile transportation for a friend of a recruit to accompany the prospect on his official paid visit to the university.


-In the summer of 1981, an assistant football coach and a high school coach arranged for a recruit to be provided automobile transportation to attend the university's summer football camp

- In the fall of 1979, a recruit was timed running the 40-yard dash by a former assistant football coach.

Good Lord.

-In December 1978, a former assistant football coach arranged for a recruit to be employed by a booster prior to the completion of the young man's senior year in high school.

Likely someone who left with Pell.

During the 1980-81 and 1981-82 academic years, the university's football coaching staff entertained prospective and enrolled student-athletes off campus at a restaurant located outside of Clemson, South Carolina.

Oh dear! the coaches took the team out to eat with their recruits on official visits! Nevermind that if they have it on campus, paid by the University, its not a violation of the NCAA rule.

-In July 1980, an assistant football coach gave cash to a high school assistant football coach to reimburse the coach for expenses incurred while transporting two recruits to the university's summer football camp.

I dont really see the problem with some of these things.

- In January 1981, an assistant football coach permitted a student-athlete to use his automobile to transport a recruit during his official paid visit to the university.

This continues to happen everywhere. A recruit is assigned a host, and if he has no car of his own, he must borrow one.

- In December 1980, a former assistant football coach permitted two recruits to use his personal automobile during their official paid visits to the university

They likely were flown in and had no car of their own.
-In November 1979, an assistant football coach provided his automobile to a student hostess in order to transport a recruit during his official paid visit.
-During the 1980-81 academic year, individuals who were not enrolled in the university served as hosts for recruits on their official paid visits to the university.

-During the 1980-81 academic year, a recruit was provided four official paid visits to the university's campus.

-In July 1980, two recruits attended the university's summer football camp for one day at no cost to either young man.

Oh no, they got one free day. This continues to happen at many schools' summer camps.

-During the 1980-81 academic year, one recruit was provided two official paid visits to the university's campus, another was provided three visits and a third was provided two visits.

Booster violations.
-In January 1981, a booster offered to provide a recruit the use of an automobile, and transportation home during his attendance at the university; further, the booster provided local transportation and a meal to the prospect on this occasion.

I'll give you a hypothetical. You're a recruit, you have a friend of the family who is in IPTAY. You live a couple hundred miles from Clemson, and he offers you a ride home every once in a while, while you are at Clemson since he would be coming or going himself. And, at least once, he offered to pay for your McDonald's meal.

-In December 1980, a booster gave a recruit a substantial amount of cash in return for his signature on a letter of intent, as well as several other gifts.

-In December 1980, a booster arranged for a substantial amount of cash to be given to a recruit and provided the young man and his mother other gifts.

-A booster paid the cost of numerous long-distant telephone calls made by two recruits during December 1980.

-During December l980, a booster gave the friend of two recruits a briefcase.
The FRIEND of two recruits? a fucking briefcase?

- In January or February 1981, a booster employed a recruit's mother and his sister for one day.

Make no mention as to whether said booster figured out he fucked up and let them go.

-In January 1982, a booster cosigned a promissory note to arrange a loan for a student-athlete to finance the purchase of an automobile.

I should mention that if a family member is a booster, then they are permitted to cosign for you as a student-athlete.

-In September 1980, following one of the university's football games, a booster gave a student-athlete cash.
-On three separate occasions during the fall of the 1979-80 academic year, boosters gave a student-athlete cash as a reward for being selected "special team player of the week."

-In December 1980, a booster paid the costs for a recruit to be lodged for three nights at a motel and provided the young man cash, two meals and the use of a rental automobile.

- On three occasions during the 1980-81 academic year, a booster entertained a recruit for a meal.

- During the 1980-81 academic year, four recruits were provided improper automobile transportation by boosters.

-In October 1980, a booster gave a student hostess cash for her gasoline expenses to transport a recruit from his home to the university's campus.

Now this one really is stupid. A booster repaid a broke college girl for gas.

- In the summer of 1980, two recruits were employed by a booster in order to assist the young men in paying the costs to attend the Clemson football camp.

So he gave them a job so they could pay Clemson to attend?

Now, onto 1989...

As an addendum, I've added Ford's direct comments on the subject from his TI interviews:

You later said publicly several times - referring to the NCAA sanctions - that there were certainly mistakes made under your watch.

Ford "We did.  We did some things there that we admitted to.  But it was nothing like what people think.  But here again, I'm not here to convince people of that.  I know what happened.  I know what we did.

"It's just that if it wasn't something here, then it was something over there.  You have changes in administration or changes in athletics directors or on your staff, plus you're still trying to push forward.  But again, I just don't remember a lot from that period."

You mentioned earlier that things were looking brighter for you, but we can't close the book on 1982 without talking about the NCAA investigation and the cloud that moved in over your program as a result of this. First let me ask you, how much of a distraction was this for you, your staff and the program? And I'm referring to the period in '82 prior to the NCAA dropping the hammer.

Ard. When the NCAA sent people to investigate, how much correspondence was with McLellan and how much was with you? How did that process work?

"They would go through the athletics director except for when they wanted to talk with a coach or an individual.

"I did my interview fishing. They came to talk to me and I told them I was going fishing. So they ended up going fishing with me. I put both of them in the boat with me and we went out to Lake Hartwell. That's how I did my interview."

Ard. What was that interview like?

(Pausing) "Different. They'd ask questions and talk, then write it down. After I finished the interview, they showed it to me on paper and I remember asking them to mark out some of the words I used. I didn't want them sending that report to the committee because it was full of ugly words, because I was mad. And they did that. I still know those two guys. I talked to one of them a few years ago."

Ard. A lot of these violations uncovered were from the Charley Pell era in 1977-78, however there were allegations from 1979 going forward as well. In 1980, for instance, an assistant coach allegedly offered a prospect a large sum of cash and an automobile to sign a letter of intent, There were other allegations of coaches offering cash and benefits to prospects, then benefits provided for student-athletes. In the NCAA's findings, it was documented that they felt there was a pattern of improper recruiting activities, which in part led to the sanctions.

From the outside, someone evaluates this and the question arises, how could the athletics director not know about these things? How could the recruiting coordinator not know about these things? And how could the head coach not know about these things?

Ford. "
They accused a lot but ... (a lot) has never been proven.

"People can say what they want and do what they want. That never has bothered me. I was there. I know what was done and what wasn't done."

Ard. One of the NCAA's findings placed blame on yourself, McLellan and Atchley, for facilitating a student-athlete's dental work.

Ford. "
That was true. That was correct, but it was approved by the vice president of Clemson University and the athletics director. We had a guy who had knocked out his tooth. He had no insurance and his family had no insurance. That had nothing to do with football. So the dentist fixed his teeth. And that was illegal. Well ... what are you going to do? Leave a guy like that without any medical attention? So that was true. But it was approved all the way down."

Where was Monte Kiffin at N.C. State in all of this?

 Ford. "That came about because he and I had a run-in after a game.  That went back to something that had happened during the investigation.  They had interviewed one of their players at N.C. State, and I found out about it.  What started that deal was I told him had someone (from the NCAA) come to our campus and interviewed one of our players about them (N.C. State), I would have called him as a courtesy.  That's how that whole thing blew up."

Ford's initial staff in the late 70s was comprised of Jimmy Laycock (OC- RBs), Buddy King (OL), Mickey Andrews (DC), Mike Bugar (DL), Billy Ware (DE), Willie Anderson (TE), Chuck Reedy, Clyde Wrenn, Lawson Holland, Curley Hallman, and Larry VanderHeyden. Laycock and Andrews left the next year. Bugar and King are the reasons we held NC so well.