CRAWFORD | Wake fires radio analyst for game plan leaks; Louisvi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Wake fires radio analyst for game plan leaks; Louisville questions remain

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Wake Forest University concluded its part in the appropriately hashtagged “Wakeyleaks” scandal on Tuesday.

It determined, and this is a wild story, that radio analyst Tommy Elrod, a former player at the school and an assistant coach there for 11 seasons before moving into his radio role, had “provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions beginning in 2014.”

The issue came to Wake Forest’s attention at some point before or after its game in Louisville on Nov. 12, when it says a member of its travel party discovered materials left behind by Louisville which indicated the Cardinals were prepared for plays Wake Forest had not run yet during the season, according to a report by USA Today’s Dan Wolken.

Here’s what Wake Forest did: It fired Elrod from its radio broadcasts. It banned him from athletic activities at the school. And it did one more thing.

“Wake Forest has notified all the appropriate entities related to these activities,” a release from the school said. Remember that sentence.

Here’s what Wake Forest didn’t do: It didn’t name names. It lobbed no accusations. It found its mole, eradicated it, sent the appropriate schools what information it had regarding the compromised game plans, and washed its hands.

Essentially, Wake Forest left it up to those schools how they now would handle the information they have.  In other words, they’re on the Honor System.

I don’t have to tell you how that kind of thing generally plays out in college football, if programs are left to themselves. This, however, may have been widespread and pervasive enough that the Atlantic Coast Conference might not want to let its members leave it to themselves.

In fact, I’d be surprised if the ACC didn’t step in. It should.

It’s a disheartening thought that in three years’ time, this kind of thing could have happened over and over again, with not a single school calling Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson to tell him he had a problem. I’m not surprised that some would not come forward. I am surprised that none came forward. Not even one.

Now, we don’t know how frequent these attempts were. We don’t know if it was something that Elrod tried to do every game, or just some games, or just with coaches with whom he had a connection.

We don’t even know enough to say that every team on Wake Forest’s schedule since 2014 got some kind of offer of inside information. We don’t know what form the information took. The other six members of the ACC’s Atlantic Division — Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, N.C. State, and Syracuse — plus Duke, all played Wake Forest three times in that span. There were non-conference games against Notre Dame and Indiana, among others.

We just don’t know how many of these other schools might be implicated. 

In fact, all we do know is this — Wake Forest found game-plan information at Louisville. And we know precious little about that. We don’t know where it was found, or how. We don’t know what form it was in, exactly. We don’t even know if it was communicated to the staff.

Wake Forest will not say. At least not publicly. Presumably, however, it has notified Louisville of what it found. Any documents sent or received between the parties have been requested by WDRB, and I’m sure others. But if Wake Forest simply had an official pick up the phone and call Louisville, as may well have happened according to at least one source, you can forget about a paper trail, and probably about getting any kind of tangible clarity on any of this.

From a Louisville standpoint, this should be a fairly quick process of Q&A between the athletic compliance office and the coaching staff: “What did you know? Who knew it?” The school has all manner of forensic ability to look at email, text messages and other communication. It can examine its own game-plan documentation. It can question its coaches.

It should do all of those things.

Wake Forest has gone out of its way to not specifically say whether Louisville had this game plan information, or whether it believes it did.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, when questioned about it in November by ESPN’s Mike and Mike Show, Petrino said, “I can tell you we didn’t.”

Louisville football spokesman Rocco Gasparro said tonight, “Coach Petrino doesn’t have a comment in what appears to be a Wake Forest issue.”

Chances are, if Wake Forest didn’t put its findings into writing when notifying Louisville, the company line is going to remain the same, and barring ACC involvement, that’s the end of the line.

What would be nice for everyone involved, and what would end any of these questions, is for Wake Forest to release the materials it found at Louisville. But it has not done that, and is not under any open-records requirement to do so as a private school.

I don’t like dealing in “ifs.” I’d much rather deal in facts. At this point, Wake Forest has laid its facts on the table. Now, it’s time for Louisville and other schools to share whatever facts they have that are pertinent to this.

As I’ve said in other stories about other issues, I’m quite content to go wherever the facts take us — as U of L fans themselves should be.

If I’m the ACC commissioner, I’d take a very dim view of all this. If member schools had knowledge of a person connected to a sister institution compromising that school competitively — and compromising the product the league puts on the field — that’s a problem. I’d think at the very least it would call for vacating any victories over Wake Forest that were tainted, and perhaps suspending coaches involved for one conference game, if their involvement could be reasonably demonstrated.

A commissioner can’t really get involved in individual actions at schools. It’s not John Swofford’s job to monitor academics at North Carolina or recruiting violations at Louisville. But it is very much the conference’s job to uphold a level of conduct among and between conference members, especially as regards fair play. If that has been breached by any of these schools, they owe Wake Forest an apology, and they may owe the league a penalty.

But that’s probably pie in the sky.

Whether these schools used the information Elrod was pushing is secondary. I can’t imagine many, if any, needed any more than their their own staff-generated game plans against Wake Forest. But that further begs the question, why didn’t they report what this guy was doing? If they knew someone out there was pushing information about Wake Forest that they shouldn’t have been, they owed it to Wake Forest and the ACC to act. I’m open for suggestions as to why they wouldn’t have. Did they think this radio guy was pushing bad info? Did they just not want to get involved? You can get sued just for breathing these days, it seems. Maybe they just didn’t want to get entangled in something that could take up their time. Regardless, I just don’t understand why a coach, even an assistant, presented with this scenario, wouldn’t call Clawson or some member of his staff to raise an alarm.

It begs the question, does this kind of thing go on more than we realize? Do programs pay for this kind of information, or is this just the case of a disgruntled former coach not being retained by the new staff trying his hand at sabotage? (It’s worth remembering, this radio analyst was more than just a broadcaster, he did have access to team practices, video sessions, training room and other team functions.)

I want to make this clear, and please hear me on this: I’m not pronouncing anyone guilty. We’re still far from having even close to all the facts. It’s not fair to draw conclusions until we know as many specifics as we can get. And frankly, given how these things work, who knows if we ever will get them. I have serious doubts as to whether we will. And that’s as much on Wake Forest as anyone, if it’s going to go public with a thing like this.

So we’re left with the Honor System, which isn’t always the best referee.

And college sports isn’t the only place. We just concluded an election season in which one candidate in a primary was apparently given questions for an upcoming debate ahead of time by a high-ranking official of the candidate’s party. The candidate didn’t report it. Didn’t share the information with the other campaign. Didn’t take it to debate organizers. Didn’t alert the media. Didn’t do anything. And the official who passed the questions along expressed no remorse, in fact wound up being promoted — though she lost her media position.

So, this is how it works. Winning means never having to say you’re sorry.

I hope that’s not where we are. But if it is, we’ve reached a sorry place, indeed.

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