College Sports

Wake Forest fires radio analyst for attempting to leak football game plans

Wake Forest football coach Dave Clawson first informed athletics director Ron Wellman of the potential security breach on Nov. 11 – one day before the Deacons and Louisville were scheduled to play.
Wake Forest football coach Dave Clawson first informed athletics director Ron Wellman of the potential security breach on Nov. 11 – one day before the Deacons and Louisville were scheduled to play. Getty Images

After several weeks of investigating how documents pertaining to Wake Forest’s game plan might have ended up in Louisville’s possession before the football game between the Deacons and Cardinals on Nov. 12, Wake Forest officials said the culprit was internal.

According to a statement released by school officials Tuesday afternoon, Tommy Elrod, a radio announcer for Wake Forest football games and member of the football program from 1993-1997, has “provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions, starting in 2014” based on emails, text messages and phone records.

The statement also said no one in the athletic department or on the football team's staff or roster was involved.

“I have known Tommy Elrod since his days as a player on our football team,” Wake Forest athletics director Ron Wellman said in a statement.

“I’m deeply disappointed that he would act against Wake Forest, our football team and our fans in such a harmful manner by compromising confidential game preparation information.

“It is a relief that the team can move forward without his actions further undermining the positive strides Dave Clawson, his staff and the team have made. All of us are now preparing for final exams and the Military Bowl and continuing to build an outstanding football program.”

After playing for Wake Forest from 1993-1997, Elrod was later hired as a graduate assistant under Jim Grobe and held multiple positions for 11 seasons.

After not being retained as a member of the coaching staff by current coach Dave Clawson before the 2014 season, however, Elrod joined the Wake Forest IMG Radio Network as a football analyst.

Elrod has been terminated from his position at IMG effective immediately and will no longer broadcast Wake Forest football games.

Elrod has also been banned from Wake Forest athletics and its facilities.

“I am extremely disappointed that our confidential and proprietary game preparation was compromised,” Clawson said in the release.

“It’s incomprehensible that a former Wake Forest student-athlete, graduate-assistant, full-time football coach, and current radio analyst for the school, would betray his alma mater. We allowed him to have full access to our players, team functions, film room, and practices. He violated our trust which negatively impacted our entire program.

“I am glad we have taken steps to ensure it will not happen in the future. At this point, this is a matter for Ron Wellman and others to act on. My staff and I are focused on Temple and preparing the team for the Military Bowl.”

Clawson first informed Wellman of the potential security breach on Friday, Nov. 11 – one day before the Deacons and Cardinals were scheduled to play – after a member of the Wake Forest traveling party found the documents at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville.

The Cardinals went on to score 34 fourth-quarter points en route to a 44-12 come-from-behind win over Wake Forest, after the Deacons jumped out to an early 12-0 lead in the first half against then-No. 6 Louisville.

“We are concerned that there was some type of security breach,” Clawson said on Tuesday, Nov. 15, three days following the Deacons 32-point loss. “I have shared it with Ron Wellman, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure all of our information and data is more secure moving forward.”

While Wellman contacted the ACC regarding Wake Forest’s concerns that same week, Louisville coach Bobby Petrino denied having any personal knowledge of the matter.

“I have no knowledge of the situation,” Petrino responded in an email on Wednesday, Nov. 16, when asked to comment on the report.

“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.”

Statements from Wake Forest

“I have known Tommy Elrod since his days as a player on our football team. I’m deeply disappointed that he would act against Wake Forest, our football team and our fans in such a harmful manner by compromising confidential game preparation information. It is a relief that the team can move forward without his actions further undermining the positive strides Dave Clawson, his staff and the team have made. All of us are now preparing for final exams and the Military Bowl and continuing to build an outstanding football program.”

Ron Wellman, Wake Forest athletic director

“I am extremely disappointed that our confidential and proprietary game preparation was compromised. It’s incomprehensible that a former Wake Forest student-athlete, graduate-assistant, full-time football coach, and current radio analyst for the school, would betray his alma mater. We allowed him to have full access to our players, team functions, film room, and practices. He violated our trust which negatively impacted our entire program. I am glad we have taken steps to ensure it will not happen in the future. At this point, this is a matter for Ron Wellman and others to act on. My staff and I are focused on Temple and preparing the team for the Military Bowl.”

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest football coach

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