CLEMSON — In the wake of the revelation that Clemson assistant head coach Danny Pearman used a racial slur during a football practice in 2017, Clemson leadership has remained silent.
School spokespersons contacted Wednesday said neither head coach Dabo Swinney nor director of athletics Dan Radakovich would comment on the situation. Clemson president Jim Clements could not be reached for comment.
But one former Clemson player defended Pearman's character and insisted he's never heard the special teams coordinator/tight ends coach use a racial slur.
"That's not a word he uses," said Stanton Seckinger, a Clemson tight end from Charleston who played for the Tigers from 2012-15. "I know that him using it was him referencing something someone had said. ... Those aren't words that he uses."
Seckinger said he's close with Pearman and had spoken with his former coach in the past 24 hours. He declined to discuss details of their conversation, but added all the former teammates he's spoken to are "shocked" by the situation.
Pearman on Tuesday evening issued a statement of apology for the incident involving former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee.
"I repeated a racial slur I overheard when trying to stop the word from being used on the practice field. What I overheard, I had no right to repeat," Pearman wrote. "While I did not direct the term at any player, I know there is no excuse for me using the language in any circumstance. I never should have repeated the phrase. It was wrong when I said it, and it is wrong today."
The revelation of Pearman's comments came a day after Swinney publicly addressed mass protests around the country stemming from the murder of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Swinney was asked about comments he made in 2016 when he suggested that some people upset with things in the United States "need to move to another country."
"That was probably a harsh statement," Swinney said Monday. "I still believe in the good of people and I just, as a person of faith, I believe in that. And I do believe we have lots of problems, for sure.
"I still think we have the best country in the world."
Swinney, who did not explicitly mention police brutality when addressing reporters, added that, as a man of faith, he believes racism and hatred will always exist because we "live in a sinful, fallen world."
Kanyon Tuttle, a Clemson walk-on wide receiver who caught two passes in 2017-18, responded to Swinney's comments Tuesday morning on Twitter: "Cap, you allowed a coach to call a player the N-word during practice with no repercussions. Not even a team apology."
Tuttle, whose father Perry Tuttle caught the game-winning touchdown in the Tigers' 1981 national championship win, also accused Swinney of prohibiting players from participating in a 2016 sit-in at Sikes Hall for racial injustice.
He did did not elaborate further and could not be reached for comment. Later in the day, Greenlee told The State it was Pearman who had used the racial slur during a 2017 practice when the coach thought Greenlee had missed a block.
"I was just like, ‘Man I got the (n-word) that came in my gap,'" Greenlee told The State. "I was talking to my teammate. That was all that was said. Then the next thing you know coach Pearman starts coming over there. He was repeating what I just said. He’s like, ‘(n-word) this, (n-word) that. The (n-word) wasn’t there.’”
The revelation became national news, with some on social media calling for Pearman's ouster. Greenlee on Wednesday afternoon sent The Post and Courier a statement.
"Yes, an incident did occur and was immediately taken care of between coach and I," Greenlee wrote. "That situation was discussed internally, but may not have been addressed properly with my teammates at the time. I've put that situation behind me since that day and will have no further comment on it."
"I apologized to D.J. at the conclusion of practice, who then appropriately raised his concern to coach (Dabo) Swinney," Pearman wrote in his statement. "Coach and I met to discuss the incident, and he reiterated that my language was unacceptable. I later apologized again as well as expressed my sincere regret to our position group the following day.
"I love the young men who choose to come to our university and I would never do anything to intentionally hurt them. I sincerely apologize to D.J., his family, our team and our staff."
Seckinger said Pearman's use of the word was consistent with an edict from Swinney not to use the slur around the facility. During his time at Clemson, Seckinger recalled Swinney calling a team-wide meeting to express his distaste for the word.
Some players heeded Swinney's call. Others didn't, Seckinger said.
"I think I maybe heard it less among players. But I still heard it a lot," Seckinger said. "That's the way that a lot of people talk these days, and you don't just switch something like that on a (whim). But coach Swinney certainly made it known that he didn't want to hear that anymore. And he let us know why.
"Because it has a negative connotation, and it's a demeaning word."