Clemson assistant coach Danny Pearman has publicly apologized for using a racial slur at practice in 2017. According to former Tigers tight end D.J. Greenlee, the exchange took place in front of the entire team, but that Pearman wasn't directing the slur towards him specifically. (Another former Clemson player told Grace Raynor of The Athletic that it only took place in front of about 20 players with word making its way to others.)
Speaking with The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Greenlee said Pearman, who coaches special teams and tight ends, came over to him and fellow tight end Milan Richard after a play and "was being a coach at the time and he was just trying to figure out what was going on."
"[Milan] was asking me what happened? 'What's coach getting on to you about?'" Greenlee told the paper. "I was just like, 'Man I got the n-word that came in my gap.' 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.'"
Greenlee is black and Pearman is white. On Tuesday evening, Pearman released the following statement through Clemson:
Three years ago on the practice field, I made a grave mistake involving 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.
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.
I apologized to D.J. at the conclusion of practice, who then appropriately raised his concern to Coach Swinney. 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 chose 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.
The apology comes after a former player, Kanyon Tuttle, posted critical remarks on his Twitter account of Swinney and his response to the death of George Floyd. Tuttle did not identify Pearman or Greenlee in his post, but said there were no repercussions for the incident nor a team-wide apology. However, another former player from 2011-15, Stanton Seckinger, told The Athletic that Swinney once held an hour-long meeting with his team about the use of the word.
Cap, you allowed a coach to call a player the N-word during practice with no repercussions. Not even a team apology. When we had the sit-in in front of sikes you suggested us players try to stay out of it to limit distractions. Stop protecting your brand, take a stand https://t.co/7gznXmyniI— Tut (@_kinggtutt) June 2, 2020
Swinney told reporters on Monday "I know that we are all hurting for the Floyd family and our country. I know I can speak for our entire staff and our entire team in that regard. We have all witnessed disgusting acts of evil -- that's the only word I can appropriately use -- over the past week and beyond."