CLEMSON - Clemson head basketball coach Oliver Purnell and two of his players met with the media Wednesday at Littlejohn Coliseum amid reports of year-long academic suspensions in the basketball program.
None offered any great insight into the reports. In fact, the two players involved - freshman Cheyenne Moore and senior Sharrod Ford - said almost nothing. Both refused to comment about the suspension reports or their current status.
"I'm not commenting on that situation right now. All I'm here to do is talk about the season," Ford said over and over.
"We want to put this behind us and move on, worry about what's coming up," said Moore.
But Purnell, while unable to talk in specifics about the players' involvement in the judiciary process, at least shed a some light on what has become a sticky issue for both his program and the school.
"I wish certain things hadn't occurred, and I can't really control that," Purnell said. "Because of confidentiality issues and rights that every student has I really can't comment a whole lot on that. The university is handling it, and obviously I'm part of the university. We've got some ongoing parts of this situation that are still being handled and we're awaiting the findings of that."
This much is known:
Moore and fellow freshman Troy Mathis, along Ford, all were suspended from school for a year by Clemson's judicial review board for their apparent roles in an on-campus fight which happened back in September. Mathis has been charged by university police with assault and battery.
On Tuesday, Ford and Moore had their suspensions overturned upon appeal. Mathis, however, did not. His case is still pending, with one step in the appeals process remaining - a review before university president James Barker.
While all three have continued to attend classes and practice throughout the process, only Ford and Moore are guaranteed to be on Purnell's final roster.
Asked if Mathis would be there, Purnell could only hedge.
"Troy's situation is being handled by the judiciary system," he said. "I'm awaiting the final outcome of that."
Asked if he wanted Mathis to remain a part of the team, Purnell responded with an emphatic "Yes."
Mathis' attorney, Seneca lawyer E. Delane Rosemond, has accused the university of making his client a "scapegoat" for the incident which, he said, included as many as nine basketball players and 10 "traditional" students.
Rosemond also insinuated that the school has problems with tension between African-American athletes and African-American students.
While not commenting on that specific allegation, Purnell acknowledged that Clemson, like other schools, has social problems which crop up from time to time.
"I've been at four schools now and they've all had issues," he said. "I came to Clemson because I felt this is a place that's about unity, that represents unity. I feel it's a place we can bring student athletes in and make them better players, make them better people. And I still feel that way.
"We have issues at Clemson like most others do, and I don't think the issues we have at Clemson are unique at all. It's not perfect place, but it's a good place and it's getting better."
It is believed that Mathis formally filed his final appeal with President Barker Wednesday, but Purnell was unable to confirm or deny if it had happened.
Purnell said he would have further comment on the situation once Mathis' final appeal is exhausted.