Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock apologetically acknowledged Thursday that a former Hokies assistant football coach received improper game-plan information from a Wake Forest radio analyst prior to the teams’ 2014 game.
Tech joins Louisville and Army in revealing that Tommy Elrod, an ex-Deacons assistant coach who moved to the radio booth in 2014 when Dave Clawson replaced Jim Grobe as head coach, offered them internal documents.
Wake Forest defeated the Hokies 6-3 in double-overtime in a game that was scoreless through regulation. Babcock said in a statement that he has no indication that the Deacons' game plan was shared with other staff members or utilized during the game.
Since Wake Forest examined Elrod's phone calls, texts and emails, Babcock likely knows the former assistant coach's identity. He declined to reveal which of the seven 2014 assistants no longer at Tech, each of whom works at another Division I program, was involved.
Unlike at Army and Louisville, there is no obvious link between Elrod and any former Tech assistant.
Frank Beamer, the Hokies’ head coach from 1987-2015, told me Wednesday night that to his knowledge Elrod had not approached any Tech staffer. Moreover, Beamer issued a statement Thursday through the school.
"I can assure you that while I was the head coach at Virginia Tech I had no knowledge of what is being alleged. I've built my entire career and life on doing things the right way and that will never change."
Babcock’s statement supported Beamer. Here is the statement in full, which promises the Hokies will be transparent with any additional twists in their involvement. Notice the stark contrast to Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, who virtually excused his school’s involvement.
“We have recently been made aware that a former Wake Forest staff member provided one of our former assistant coaches with some game plan information prior to our game in 2014. We have no indication at this time that any of this information was shared with any other staff members, nor utilized during the game itself. However, should new information become available, we will be forthcoming and transparent.
“We hold ourselves to a higher standard at Virginia Tech. We are disappointed and embarrassed that this type of information was distributed to, and apparently received by one of our former assistant coaches. The distribution of this type of information among peers or rivals is wrong and not in the vein of sportsmanship and integrity that we demand and expect, and for this, I would like to take this opportunity to personally apologize to the coaches, student-athletes, administration, alumni, students and fans of Wake Forest University.
“I am also aware of former head coach Frank Beamer’s and current defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s public remarks yesterday as to having no knowledge of the situation and I believe and support both of them wholeheartedly. It should also be noted that there is no known connection of any kind to our current coaching staff who were hired in late 2015.
"We will, of course, comply fully with the ACC and all relevant parties as this unfortunate situation unfolds. Thank you.”
This saga began after Wake Forest’s Nov. 12 loss at Louisville, when Deacons athletic director Ron Wellman revealed that a member of the team’s traveling party had discovered internal game-planning documents at Louisville’s stadium the day prior to the game.
Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino denied any knowledge of illicit information, but Wake Forest officials continued to probe. Tuesday afternoon Wellman announced that Elrod had “provided, or attempted to provide, confidential and proprietary game preparations (to opponents) on multiple occasions, starting in 2014.”
On Wednesday, Jurich said that offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway, who worked with Elrod at Wake Forest on Grobe’s staff, had received improper information. Jurich’s statement dismissed the cheating as incidental, expressed zero remorse and mentioned no potential sanctions for Galloway, or perhaps even Petrino if he had been aware.
Later Wednesday, the Raleigh News & Observer's Joe Giglio linked Army to the saga, and Cadets athletic director Boo Corrigan told Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel that he was investigating. Army played Wake Forest in each of the last three seasons, and its defensive line coach in 2014 and ’15, Ray McCartney, served with Elrod at Wake Forest.
Virginia, North Carolina, N.C. State, Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse have said, either in statements or to local media, that they were not offered inside information prior to playing Wake Forest.
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