The #ACC Needs To Perform an Independent Investigation Into The Wakeyleaks Scandal

SwoffordGood evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.

Wakeyleaks – it appears – is what a lot of people are talking about right now.  If you haven’t heard about Wakeyleaks, here is an excellent summary from @Rodger_Sherman.  We’ll take a couple of his quotes verbatim:

In November, Wake Forest discovered something weird. While at Louisville’s Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, they found documents lying around detailing some of their own plays. That wouldn’t be so surprising — of course teams diagram plays run by their opponents — but the documents detailed plays that the Demon Deacons hadn’t yet run. Maybe it was actually the result of top-secret espionage on Louisville’s part, but it seemed as likely that something perfectly normal had occurred. Maybe somebody had just left a playsheet out, or maybe Wake had run similar plays and Louisville had made some lucky guesses. It was a weird game — Wake led 12–0 and still lost 44–12 — but the incident was widely forgotten.

Except, Wake didn’t forget. And in researching, it uncovered an explanation larger and weirder than any we could have invented. The school claims that Tommy Elrod, an ex-player and ex-coach who serves as the team’s radio announcer, “provided or attempted to provide” information about Wake’s game plan not only to Louisville, but to several opponents the team had faced since 2014. That’s when Dave Clawson took over as the program’s head coach, and when he did, he decided not to retain Elrod, who had been on the school’s football staff for 11 years. But despite firing Elrod, Clawson continued to allow him “full access” to the team’s practices, film sessions, and events in his role as a broadcaster. That access is now over.

Here at @AllSportsDACC, we are fans of Louisville Athletic Director, Tom Jurich (and we have said this many times on our site), but he showed no remorse in his statement (h/t @FootballScoop).  Specifically (his statement is paraphrased below from Football Scoop):

Jurich admits Louisville knowingly accepted stolen information, then shared that information with its defensive staff. Apparently, because none of the plays illicitly shared with the Cardinals were not run in the game, Louisville essentially tossed the issue to the side and moved on with its season.

By the way, the only reason those plays weren’t run was because Wake knew they’d been stolen.

And don’t forget, the Wake-Louisville game in question was closer than the 44-12 final score indicated; Wake led at one point 12-3. We’ll never know how much those ripped plays affected the game, but the fact is that opportunity was stolen from Wake Forest.

A few things Jurich’s statement did not address:

1) Where was Bobby Petrino in all this? Why did he not see the need to alert Wake Forest there was a mole in its organization?

By the way, Jurich’s statement is in direct contradiction with what Petrino said immediately after the scandal broke.

“I have no knowledge of the situation,’” Petrino told the Winston-Salem Journal in November. “We take a lot of pride in the way we operate our program. As I’ve stated already this season, my coaching philosophy has always been to play the game with sportsmanship.”

“I can tell you that we didn’t,” Petrino said on Mike and Mike. “I like our team, and I’m down here (in Houston) preparing for this game, so I don’t really understand what they’re talking about. I heard about it right before we got on the plane to leave. But I can assure you that we prepare each week the way that you’re supposed to prepare, and I like the fact that our team knows how to do that.”

So while Petrino is denying his staff had any knowledge of leaked game plans, Jurich admits Petrino’s staff accepted and used those same leaked game plans. All this at a school that recently went through a scandal in which head basketball coach Rick Pitino claimed to have zero knowledge of his assistants using prostitutes to lure recruits.

2) Why does Jurich find no issue with his assistants using stolen information? Instead of being concerned of his staff’s complicity in comprising the integrity of college football, he’s annoyed the scandal has affected prep for a game that is still more than two weeks away.

3) Is the ACC going to accept Louisville knowing using stolen information from another league member without a statement of its own? Currently, the conference states it is still “obtaining the internal findings” from Wake Forest.

These are all good points from @FootballScoop.  This was a really bad response from Jurich (one I’m not quite used to from him).

Then came the news today that Virginia Tech was also involved in the Wakeyleaks scandal (h/t @NicoleAuerbach).  But Whit Babcock handled this much differently:

“We have recently been made aware that a former Wake Forest staff member provided one of our former assistant coaches with some game plan information prior to our game in 2014. We have no indication at this time that any of this information was shared with any other staff members, nor utilized during the game itself. However, should new information become available, we will be forthcoming and transparent.

“We hold ourselves to a higher standard at Virginia Tech. We are disappointed and embarrassed that this type of information was distributed to, and apparently received by one of our former assistant coaches. The distribution of this type of information among peers or rivals is wrong and not in the vein of sportsmanship and integrity that we demand and expect, and for this, I would like to take this opportunity to personally apologize to the coaches, student-athletes, administration, alumni, students and fans of Wake Forest University.

“I am also aware of former head coach Frank Beamer’s and current defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s public remarks yesterday as to having no knowledge of the situation and I believe and support both of them wholeheartedly. It should also be noted that there is no known connection of any kind to our current coaching staff who were hired in late 2015.

“We will, of course, comply fully with the ACC and all relevant parties as this unfortunate situation unfolds. Thank you.”

Babcock apologized and showed remorse – and that’s as a good a public relations response as you’re going to get from an athletic director in a scandal like this.

Last night, my blogging and podcast partner, @TalkinACCSports, said that we shouldn’t rush to judgment on Wakeyleaks and he’s right.

Is it bad that both Virginia Tech and Louisville were involved Wakeyleaks?  Absolutely – this is an ACC problem now.

And this is a point where we need leadership from ACC Commissioner, John Swofford.  The integrity of the conference is at stake now.  Swofford and the ACC needs to hire a Big 3 certified public accounting firm or a top 50 New York law firm to perform an independent investigation into Wakeyleaks (in my day job, I’m an auditor – and strongly believe in the principle of independence – I’m not speaking for my employer).  While ACC investigators can certainly review the information provided by Wake Forest’s own internal review (and any reviews performed by Louisville and Virginia Tech), it’s absolutely imperative that the ACC examine Wakeyleaks independently.

If any aspect of Wakeyleaks is found to be true, then a range of penalties needs to be handed down by the ACC to the coaches and institutions involved.  But as Jeff said, it’s way to early to pass judgment.  That said, the ACC really needs leadership from John Swofford on this issue.

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