Clemson coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t want to take any chances of his players being tempted into improper contact with agents or their so-called runners.
The program has always been proactive, Swinney said, but in light of recent events, he’s considering taking pictures of runners for agents to alert those within the program of who should be hanging around and who shouldn’t. He’s also considering punishment as serious as dismissal from the team for any player involved with agents or their runners. He realizes it’s a fine line, though, because he doesn’t want to falsely accuse anyone -- agents, runners or players -- of something if they haven’t done anything improper.
Swinney is banking on his players telling him the truth, but he’s also prepared to discipline them if they’re not.
“I’m going to let them know, ‘Hey, we’re not turning an eye away to any of this stuff,’” Swinney said. “If we see something, we’re going to challenge you on it. Just do what’s right. It’s not worth it. Just think about all of these guys who worked their tails off all summer long -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, whatever -- we’re talking about a couple of guys as opposed to the hope and optimism that should be coming with the start of a new season.”
Coaches are held accountable for everything that goes on in their programs, but at some point, the athletes have to take responsibility for themselves.
“Expectations keep going up, up, up,” Swinney said, “and your ability to control certain things gets less and less and less.”
Still, the onus is on the coaches to recruit players of character who will make the right decisions. Many recruits are genuinely good, disciplined people, Swinney said, but are surrounded and influenced in the wrong direction by family members and friends.
“It’s a whole problem in itself,” Swinney said. “There’s a lot of layers to it, but all you can do is try and educate. If the players go that route and they get caught, then they’ve got to suffer the consequences. That’s all there is to it.”
Many schools make policing agent contact a top priority. Kevin Glover at Maryland, for example, has been a liaison to the NFL for the Terps and runs a “character education” program. He deals with all scouts and agents and is responsible for informing the players about how not to deal with them.
The recent investigations across the country show this is hardly a problem centered at North Carolina. It seems to have served as a reminder, though, that it can happen anywhere.
“We constantly try to educate our guys, through the compliance department, through our one-on-one interaction,” Swinney said. “We remind our guys all the time -- life’s about decisions. There’s consequences with whatever decisions you make. If guys are going to do things improperly, they’re going to do it. It’s unfortunate. It sounds like they’re really trying to crack down on this thing, and maybe it will send a message to everybody.”
If not, Swinney is ready to deliver his own.