After Wake Forest lost 44-12 to Lamar Jackson and Louisville last month, head coach Dave Clawson said “We are concerned that there was some type of security breach” and the athletic department decided to investigate. It looks like Clawson was right. ACCSports.com (a site that covers the conference) reported Tuesday that Wake Forest’s investigation concluded their own radio analyst, Tommy Elrod, gave game preparation information to opponents. SB Nation’s Blogger So Dear has the full release from the athletic department’s investigation; here are the key parts.
“Following the Louisville football game on November 12, Wake Forest conducted a thorough investigation to determine if confidential and proprietary game preparation information had been compromised. The investigation was not limited to the situation with Louisville and was comprehensive in nature. The investigation determined the following:
- Based on emails, text messages and phone records, Tommy Elrod, a radio announcer for Wake Forest football games, provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions, starting in 2014.
- No members of the Wake Forest athletic department, football staff or players were involved in any way in these actions.
…Elrod has been terminated immediately from his position at IMG and will no longer broadcast Wake Forest football games. He has been banned from Wake Forest athletics and its facilities.
According to a cached version of his bio on the Wake Forest website, Elrod played for Wake Forest as a walk-on quarterback from 1993-97, lettering in 1996, then served as a graduate assistant from 1999-2001, returned in 2003 and served for 11 years as an assistant coach under Jim Grobe, first coaching fullbacks and tight ends then working as the quarterbacks coach and two as the passing game coordinator. However, he wasn’t retained when Clawson took over in 2014 and shifted to radio. In the initial release about his hiring, he sounded ready to move on from coaching (cached):
“I am thrilled to join the IMG/WME team for the upcoming Wake Forest football season,” said Elrod. “I spent 18 great years at Wake Forest as a coach or player and as I have transitioned out of college coaching, this is an opportunity to bring some insight and observations based off my history with the program. August signals that football season is almost here and I look forward to kicking things off with Stan and Dave.”
According to that Wake Forest investigation, though, Elrod started providing opponents with information that same year. He’s now deleted his Twitter account and his LinkedIn account, and the Verger Capital Management company he was listed as business development director at no longer lists him (cached version here). So, it looks like he’s going to try to keep a low profile for a while. You can imagine why; Demon Deacons fans are going to be understandably outraged over this. The statements from Clawson and AD Ron Wellman show how upset they are:
Statement from Ron Wellman, Wake Forest Director of Athletics:
I have known Tommy Elrod since his days as a player on our football team. I’m deeply disappointed that he would act against Wake Forest, our football team and our fans in such a harmful manner by compromising confidential game preparation information. It is a relief that the team can move forward without his actions further undermining the positive strides Dave Clawson, his staff and the team have made. All of us are now preparing for final exams and the Military Bowl and continuing to build an outstanding football program.
Statement from Dave Clawson, Wake Forest Head Football Coach:
I am extremely disappointed that our confidential and proprietary game preparation was compromised. It’s incomprehensible that a former Wake Forest student-athlete, graduate-assistant, full-time football coach, and current radio analyst for the school, would betray his alma mater. We allowed him to have full access to our players, team functions, film room, and practices. He violated our trust which negatively impacted our entire program. I am glad we have taken steps to ensure it will not happen in the future. At this point, this is a matter for Ron Wellman and others to act on. My staff and I are focused on Temple and preparing the team for the Military Bowl.
It stands out that this wasn’t a one-off situation, either, but “on multiple occasions, starting in 2014.” That could have implications far beyond Wake Forest. Football coaches are an oft-paranoid fraternity, worried about any sort of media access to practices and game plans, and finding evidence that a seemingly-trusted media member (keep in mind that many NCAA radio announcers are closer to being team employees than independent media members) actually gave information to the opposition is going to only increase that paranoia. If you can’t trust a former coach for your team who’s working as your team’s radio analyst, it’s going to be even harder to trust those who are covering your program from a more independent perspective. There’s no evidence that this sort of information leaking from media members is at all common, but you can bet there will be plenty of coaches worried about it in the wake of this incident.