Clemson assistant releases statement apologizing for using a racial slur to “correct” a player


FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney celebrates after his team scored during the second half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against LSU in New Orleans. The Tigers have locked up the best recruiting class of the Dabo Swinney era, which already includes two national titles and five playoff appearances. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Clemson assistant coach Danny Pearman issued a statement Tuesday night apologizing for repeating a racial slur to a player at a practice three years ago.

Earlier Tuesday, The State quoted former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee saying that Tigers assistant coach Danny Pearman once heard him use the n-word at practice “and basically tried to correct me by saying the n-word back,” Greenlee told the paper.

The incident came to light Tuesday morning on Twitter in a tweet by former Clemson receiver Kanyon Tuttle who, in responding to Dabo Swinney’s comments Monday following the death of George Floyd and the national unrest that followed, asserted that Swinney let the incident go while also noting another moment that he felt as if his right of expression was discouraged.

Pearman’s full statement Tuesday evening:

“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 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.”

Greenlee told The State that he spoke with Swinney about the incident on Tuesday.

Additionally from The State:

That practice exchange happened in front of the entire team, Greenlee said.

“Yeah, it happened,” Greenlee recalled. “It was a heated time or whatever. I spoke with him after practice. Coach Swinney explained to me what was going on. He said he was going to talk with coach Pearman. I don’t know if he did. Coach Pearman apologized. This was three years ago.”

Greenlee said he was eventually able to accept Pearman’s apology.

“He apologized the rest of that season. He knew he was in the wrong,” Greenlee said. “You can’t hold a grudge against someone forever.”

Greenlee played at Clemson from 2013-2016. Tuttle was a member of the team as a walk-on receiver in 2016 and 2017 after transferring from S.C. State. His father Perry scored what proved to be the decisive touchdown in the 1982 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska that clinched the national title for Clemson for the 1981 season.

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