Nothing is sacred, as the hosts of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, discuss. Trade secrets and intellectual property (the playbook contents) in collegiate football have value, and apparently some schools within the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) were willing recipients of plays purloined from the Wake Forest program by a Wake Forest insider.
[x_pullquote cite=”Wake Forest Football Coach Dave Clawson” type=”left”]”It’s incomprehensible that a former Wake Forest student-athlete, graduate-assistant, full-time football coach, and current radio analyst for the school, would betray his alma mater. We allowed him to have full access to our players, team functions, film room, and practices. He violated our trust which negatively impacted our entire program.”[/x_pullquote]
Insider theft from Wake Forest University
Wake Forest announcer Tommy Elrod (now former, as he was terminated shortly after his misdeed was discovered) shared with opposing teams various specialty plays the Wake Forest Deacon’s football team devised for that particular Saturday encounter. Elrod apparently miffed that he had been passed over as an assistant coach by his alma mater, conjured up the internal fortitude to break trust and inflict pain (perception is reality) against Wake Forest.
According to the ESPN report, Elrod’s misdeeds would have gone unnoticed save for the fact that a copy of the plays specifically created for a Wake Forest vs Louisville match. According to ESPN, “Wake Forest launched an investigation into its football program last month, after a sheet featuring its own plays was discovered inside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium the day before its Nov. 12 game against Louisville. Shortly after the investigation was launched, coach Bobby Petrino (Louisville) said in a statement he had “no knowledge of the situation.” Subsequently, according to ESPN, Louisville AD Tom Jurich, contradicted his coach, and noted, that “Louisville had received “a few” plays from Wake Forest announcer Tommy Elrod, before the game.”
Ethics in sports?
Do ethics exist in the ACC? One can perhaps understand the vengeance and revenge motivation of Elrod. That is not to condone the behavior, but it is in the scope of behavior one expects of an individual who has broken trust and is hell-bent to extract an ounce or two of blood. When caught they reap the consequences of their illegal action. What boggles the mind is the lack of ethics within the various football programs which received the weekly data dump from Elrod. Apparently not a single one picked up the phone and gave the Wake Forest coach, Dave Clawson or Athletic Director Ron Wellman or ACC Commissioner John Swofford a call given them a heads up that something smelly exists in the hen-house.
Any company knows that when a competitor’s information walks through the door there is only one thing to do, call the owner and advise, cooperate as requested with law enforcement and when the dust settles clean out the bad egg from within your own house. Ethics matter.
Protecting your intellectual property and trade secrets also matters, and all entities regardless of size or sector, have something of value which an unscrupulous insider can take and share to the detriment of the information’s owner.
Blueridge Now: Wake fires radio announcer for leaking game plans