Clemson fired assistant basketball coach Steve Smith on Friday. The move, which was not a surprise, came a week after an FBI wiretap revealed comments by Smith that were widely seen as tarnishing Dabo Swinney’s national championship football program as well as the basketball program.
Swinney on Thursday night at a Prowl and Growl event in Florence said he has not heard from Smith since news broke of comments that came in a recording that was included in a federal trial stemming from the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.
“That’s why football is so successful,” Smith said while discussing the recruitment of basketball star Zion Williamson, “is if you do it and use resources at Clemson, like you can really keep everything tight.”
Swinney said head basketball coach Brad Brownell called to apologize.
“Just disappointed,” Swinney said, “because I know how we run our program. Very proud of how we run our program. We’ve always been a program committed to doing things the right way and always will be.”
Smith, a Varnville native and Trinity College graduate, had spent seven seasons at Clemson. He previously coached at Georgia Southern and USC Upstate and spent two years in the Army.
Brownell was brief in his official statement on Friday: “I support the decision not to renew Steve Smith’s contract.”
Smith in other FBI wiretap conversations said of Clemson, “It’s a small college town ... You can come to a game one night, after the game you see a dude out there in a nice looking suit, you like, wait a minute now.”
Athletic director Dan Radakovich last week called Smith’s statements “unfortunate” and said there would be an immediate conduct review.
“I think we feel very strongly that those were unfortunate comments, and we are doing our due diligence,” Radakovich said. “But there is no reason to believe and nothing we can find at this point in time that implicates our football program in any of that.”
Radakovich said he was troubled by reports that Smith felt he had to pretend he didn’t know the way to Williamson’s house in Spartanburg the first time he accompanied Brownell to the home.
“I finally take my boss over there to do an (expletive) in-home so I’ve got (to act) like I’ve never been there,” Smith said on the wiretap.
“That’s a problem,” Radakovich said. “It’s a problem especially if you are in an employee/supervisor relationship, you would think all those things are a little more transparent than that. So again, that is something we will look into.”
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff