Former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee said Danny Pearman, an assistant coach, once used a racial slur during a practice.
Greenlee revealed the details of the exchange to Matt Connolly of The State:
"It was just a heated argument during practice, basically. Me and the coach got into it and I was speaking with one of my teammates. He heard me use the N-word basically, and basically tried to correct me by saying the N-word back. He wasn't saying that I was a N-word. It was, using the tone, in a word like, 'OK... I was talking to my teammate and you came over here.'"
Greenlee added that Pearman, who is white, later apologized for using the word.
"Yeah, it happened," he said. "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."
Pearman also issued a statement and public apology Tuesday:
Pearman is currently the team's special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Greenlee said he's since forgiven him.
"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 commented on the matter after former Clemson walk-on receiver, Kanyon Tuttle, brought it up in response to a Twitter post from Clemson football and head coach Dabo Swinney talking about the killing of George Floyd and the protests happening around the U.S. calling for an end to police brutality:
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
Swinney has been critiqued in the past for his takes on social and racial issues. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before San Francisco 49ers games in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial discrimination, Swinney spoke out against that form of protest.
"I don't think it's good to be a distraction to your team," he said, per Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier. "I don't think it's good to use the team as a platform. I totally disagree with that. Not his protest. But I just think there's a right way to do things. I don't think two wrongs make a right. Never have, never will. I think it just creates more divisiveness, more division."
He also said at the time that "it's so easy to say we have a race problem, but we got a sin problem" and said of political activists, "some of these people need to move to another country."