Dabo Swinney has taken some heat for what many have called a half-hearted response to George Floyd’s death. Among the most notable criticisms came from one of his former Clemson players.
Kanyon Tuttle played for the Tigers during the 2016-17 season, Swinney’s first national title team. His father is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame, and played for the 1981 national championship team. Today, in response to Swinney’s Monday statement, he revealed an incident from that fall.
“You allowed a coach to call a player the N-word during practice with no repercussions,” Tuttle tweeted in response to Clemson football’s audio of Swinney’s statement. “Not even a team apology. When we had the sit-in in front of sikes you suggestedus players try to stay out of it to limit distractions. Stop protecting your brand, take a stand.”
Tuttle followed up saying that while he respects Dabo Swinney, he “needs to do better” on issues of race. This afternoon, The State spoke to the player who was involved in the incident that Tuttle described, former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee, who identified Tigers assistant Danny Pearman as the coach in question. He tried to provide some clarity on the incident.
News: Former Clemson player tells The State about n-word incident with Tigers assistant coach https://t.co/VRw8gsku8L
— Matt Connolly (@MattatTheState) June 2, 2020
“It was just a heated argument during practice, basically,” D.J. Greenlee told The State of the incident. “Me and the coach got into it and I was speaking with one of my teammates. He heard me use the n-word basically, and basically tried to correct me by saying the n-word back.”
“He wasn’t saying that I was a n-word. It was, using the tone, in a word like, ‘OK … I was talking to my teammate and you came over here.’”
Greenlee said that he spoke to Swinney about the incident after practice, and that while Swinney said that he’d address the incident with Pearman, he couldn’t confirm that that happened. In any event, he said that Pearman apologized to him throughout the rest of the season, and that he eventually accepted.
He did not say whether the incident, which was obviously public enough for other players to know about, was ever addressed to the team as a whole, something that Tuttle said did not happen.
Pearman played at Clemson from 1985-87, and has been on staff under Swinney since 2009, coaching tight ends, and special teams. He currently holds the title of assistant head coach.