CLEMSON — Clemson hosted its 10th annual Dabo Swinney Ladies Clinic over the weekend, raising $350,000 for breast cancer research and hosting a record-high 3,000 women at the university, but it was a different part of the event that appears to be garnering all of the traction on social media.
The football team came under criticism Monday, when a video circulated around Twitter of Christian Wilkins, the Tigers' standout defensive tackle, giving a woman at the clinic a lap dance on the floor of Littlejohn Coliseum that included him ripping his shirt off and gyrating around her. A photo of Clemson players also in rolled up shorts that looked like undergarments-only also raised some questions from outsiders, who criticized the event for its behavior.
But Clemson has an explanation for both the video and the photo. The woman in the video with Wilkins is seen laughing and smiling through the salacious lap dance and even switches places with Wilkins at the end of it to give a dance of her own. In the video, the Littlejohn Coliseum crowd is also roaring with approval in what Clemson Sports Information Director Ross Taylor said was a segment called 'Dancing With the Tigers.'
So this is the benefit of being a booster for Clemson..... pic.twitter.com/OKOS7kNRYx— Zack🐔 (@USC_Zack) July 21, 2018
Taylor explained that the clinic featured several segments with different parts of the football team putting on different demonstrations throughout the day. The offensive coaches spoke about their philosophies, the defensive coaches did the same and so did the nutrition staff. 'Dancing With The Tigers' was one of those several segments and Wilkins' performance was the outlier, Taylor said.
"That certainly was not indicative of that portion of the day at all," Taylor said. "For instance, (defensive lineman) Clelin Ferrell was dancing with his mother ... needless to say, (Wilkins' dance) was something that was not planned."
As for the photo of the football players in what looks like undergarments, Taylor said that another one of the segments — to illustrate the work the Tigers have done with their strength and conditioning staff — was a body-building competition. Clemson wanted to originally have actual weights for the strength and conditioning portion of the event, but because the clinic was so large, it was moved into Littlejohn Coliseum, where weights on the floor were not permitted. Instead, Clemson decided to have a body-building contest, where players posed against each other in light, middle and heavyweight divisions to demonstrate that part of the program.
Taylor indicated Clemson had not received any complaints about the day and said instead the Tigers, and Swinney, were praised for the work they have been doing in the community for these women. The $350,000 raised goes directly toward breast cancer research in the form of $250,000 paying for a mobile mammography van to help breast cancer detection and the other $100,000 going directly to donations at the Oconee Memorial Hospital.
"We’ve gotten just overwhelmingly positive feedback from the day, especially from the women that have battled breast cancer. The participation that we had, the money that we raised for women in this area, I think we came away from it feeling very positive and thinking it was a great day," Taylor said.
"The video making the rounds certainly wasn’t indicative of the dance portion or the event as a whole. We’re really proud of what we did to help women in the area that are currently battling breast cancer."