What really happened with Swofford and the extra year


by - Senior Writer -
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The curious case of ACC Commissioner John Swofford and the extra year of Clemson’s probation back in the early 80’s has been a hot topic for quite a while, and every time something related to Swofford or the ACC comes up, that particular subject comes up.

The story goes that Swofford, then the Athletic Director at the University of North Carolina, led the charge to have that extra year added for Clemson. The NCAA placed the football program on probation for a 2-year period to include the 1983 and 1984 seasons, but the ACC imposed a third year of conference penalty.

When North Carolina’s penalties were recently handed down, and especially the stern “reprimand” that the school received for its violations, the clamor against Swofford increased and we decided to take a look – get into a time capsule if you will – and see if we could find out the truth. Or at least some semblance of it.

The results were unexpected.

I had always “heard” that Swofford was at fault, and when interview requests sent through the ACC were delayed, it seemed as if he might be hiding something.

One of the first people I talked to was Clemson Sports Information Director Tim Bourret, who came to Clemson in 1978 to work for former SID Bob Bradley and was here for all of the events. When I posed the question to him about Swofford’s involvement, he gave me a few names of other people to talk to and told me I could look at the school’s newspaper archives from the era. However, he told me that he did not remember in any shape, form or fashion Swofford being involved in the extra year, and said that it was actually not the athletic directors that gave the Tigers the extra year – the infractions committee at that time was a group of faculty representatives from each school.

The second person I spoke with was Dick Dull, who served as the University of Maryland’s Athletic Director from 1981-86. He was a treasure trove of information, and once again, his response was an unexpected one.

When I introduced myself and postulated the story idea of Swofford’s involvement in the extra year, he actually laughed before explaining some of what went down.

“You have to understand that John and I were both very new to our roles and very young at that time,” Dull said. “We were in a group of older, more experienced men, and I doubt that either one of us would have ever spoken up on something like this or tried to run the show. I think either one of us would have been too afraid to do something like that. That just didn’t happen.”

It was then that I brought up the famous “5-2 vote” and his alleged involvement in walking out. It was said that when the vote came up for adding the extra year, two schools walked [Maryland being one of them] and their votes were counted as a no. Dull quickly informed me, much like Bourret did, that he didn’t have a vote on that issue.

“The faculty representatives from each school were the ones that voted for the penalty,” he said. “And I don’t remember even being asked by our faculty representative on how to vote. That was a conference issue that was taken care of by those faculty reps. But I do remember a 5-2 vote causing an uproar, but that came later, in 1984.”

In 1984, that same infractions committee met again. The NCAA’s imposed sanctions against Clemson were coming to an end, and Clemson appealed to the ACC a second time in November to have the third year taken away. The first appeal came in November of 1982 in Alexandria, Va., and the ACC voted 7-0 to have the third year stick.

Clemson appealed again in June of 1984, and the meeting was held in Chicago in June of 1984. In that meeting, the vote was 5-2 in favor of the extra year, and was once again held by the faculty representatives and ACC Commissioner Robert James. The two schools that voted against the extra year were – interestingly enough and tied to what we had heard – Maryland and Wake Forest.

It was in August of 1984 that the news came out that the appeals process had been mishandled by James and the conference. According to the ACC’s bylaws (as of 1983), the appeal of any penalties should have been heard by the ACC’s Executive Committee and not the same group that imposed the sanctions in the first place.

James admitted that the entire process had been mishandled by the league office.

“This should not have been the same group, and it will not be in the future,” James said in August of that year. “We have a revised system that will now ensure that the same group that will determine the initial punishment for a school found in violation of the rules will not hear the appeal.”


If the ACC had followed its own rules, the appeal would have and should have been heard by the Executive Committee, which consisted of Clemson faculty rep Bobby Skelton (who would have been replaced in the vote) and the athletic directors at Georgia Tech and N.C. State. Also on that committee were Dull and Wake Forest athletic director Gene Hooks. Both had publicly supported Clemson’s appeal in 1984, and had the ACC followed its own protocol, it is likely that Clemson’s extra year would have been reduced.

I have found several archives and articles from the time, and talked to several of the people from that era that were involved, and all told me that they don’t remember Swofford being a part of the group that imposed the extra year. It was interesting to learn the actual facts behind the famous 5-2 vote, and to hear from Dull how the entire process was handled. He was a wealth of information and wonderful to talk to.

However, at this point, I almost have to assume that the legend of Swofford and the extra year is just that…a legend. I am going to keep searching and looking at newspaper articles, and I am actually trying to line up an interview with Skelton, who would probably have the most insight, at least from a Clemson perspective, of what really happened.

Here is an online version of the accounts of Clemson’s appeals process…

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=NZtYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ns4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=6557,5311981&dq=clemson+probation&hl=en

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Subject (Replies: 75) Author
Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
B-Meist®
no, don't ruin this for us..it was Swofford, the rat #######***
Nobody's Fool
Please don't let facts get in the way of a good story!***
CU TLGTN®
Good job, David Hood
Marshall
Re: Good job, David Hood
allorangeallthetime52®
Impossible!***
TheProdigal
^^^^
TigerGrad11
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
sbrooks®
Yeah, well I was around too...
zumaboy
Re: Yeah, well I was around too...
allorangeallthetime52®
LOL
TheProdigal
LOL all you want doofus
tigrjm76®
The facts say different. Nice try though.***
Tymick1
prove it.....show me the facts from the article that
tigrjm76®
Was that a coot talking about facts?
Drobins
show me the facts that the UNC did lead the charge.
sadmba
good grief sport
tigrjm76®
Apparently it wasn't common knowledge to the people involved
Tymick1
There were no message boards then
tigrjm76®
Re: show me the facts that the UNC did lead the charge.
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: The facts say different. Nice try though.***
allorangeallthetime52®
sure
Tymick1
and South Carolina left the ACC b/c they couldn't compete
74paws
but that's not true.
Tymick1
hahaha, some peopel HAVE to belive certain things.***
Completely Solid Orange®
i still don't like swoffie at all!***
sav82tiger
As punishment for blaming Swofford all of these years, I
mapman
^^^not joking***
ClemsonTiger1988®
I suppose its possible that Swofford's name has become
tigrjm76®
Maryland's AD at the time admitted he didn't have
Tymick1
and its only your assumption
tigrjm76®
Also from your SID -
Tymick1
That pretty much sez it all.***
josephg®
since reading comprehension has never been your forte
tigrjm76®
Point for putting a chicken in his place and for doing it in
David78®
Thanks Tymick1 for a gamecock's opinion on a Clemson...
tigerHD
You are more than Welcome.***
Tymick1
Why is it anti-Clemson to state what's pretty
josephg®
Amazing tymick and the rest of the jerkchickentrolls NEVER
tigrjm76®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
BerlinSPY73®
I've been vocal in my dislike but this changes my feelings
74TIGER
Re: I've been vocal in my dislike but this changes my feelings
tigertomw
swoffie still sucks***
big head
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
sspassport®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
allorangeallthetime52®
David Hood's article reiterates the newspaper accounts . . .
TigerTwice®
Thanx for clippings! Botched appeal needed 2/3 vote 2 uphold***
Razzmatazz
Also points out how Atchley
tigerag79
Outstanding David. Thanks for doing the legwork.
Swarley
So does this replace the interview with him?
potatoes and gravy®
Well, that was NOT the expose we all wanted. Pewp!
David78®
Once a group of people decide to not like someone, there
Completely Solid Orange®
Re: Once a group of people decide to not like someone, there
David78®
So can we sue the acc for screwing up the appeals process or
cutig91
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
Brad W
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
Memphis Tiger®
As the child of university faculty I believe this
cu1981fans
nice work David***
clemsonphi
One major point that people seem to be overlooking, if
CU72Tiger®
LMAO and so I'm not a devil's advocate, just
josephg®
Why the silence on his part?***
Orangetiger70®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
TigerHawk76®
bs***
clemwwa
Re: bs*** Ha, I took your pulse from 0 to 100 with one TU.
ClemsonTiger1988®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
84TigerDad®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
Woburn Tiger
Good reporting!... even though it bulldozed my grassy knoll.***
Razzmatazz
Re: Good reporting!... even though it bulldozed my grassy knoll.***
facman
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
bubba1239®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
facman
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
CUTigerInVA
Newsflash: Sherman never burned Columbia or Atlanta.
BengalBilly
So Sherman's "Jefferson Award" for good citizenship was
tigrjm76®
Re: Front Page Story: What really happened with Swofford and the extra year
R_we_back
thanks for the info-good questions above, why didn't we
Zoe09®
Re: thanks for the info-good questions above, why didn't we
Litefoot®

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