If your’e a college football fan, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about “Wakey-Leaks”; but, if you’re a less than ardent follower, you may still be wondering what’s going on.
In the simplest terms: Wake Forest football had their game plans leaked to Louisville before a big game. But why is seemingly “non-event” getting so much press? Why did SB Nation
call it the “football espionage caper of the century”? And what convinced The Winston-Salem Journal
that this was “bigger than Wake Forest”?
Well, the media coverage started after November 12, when Wake Forest’s Deacons lost to the fifth-ranked Cardinals, 44-12. After the shocking loss, a Wake Forest affiliate reported
that they’d found confidential documents from their team lying around in the Cardinal’s stadium. As a result, coach Dave Clawson announced that “[Wake Forest] are concerned that there was some type of security breach. I have shared it with Ron Wellman, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure all of our information and data is more secure moving forward.”
While the media initially speculated that someone on the Wake Forest staff must have misplaced the documents, the ensuing investigation, uncovered something shocking: The team’s personal radio broadcasters had been conspiring against his team.
emails, texts and phone records, it became apparent to Wake Forest staff that Tommy Elrod, a former player and assistant coach turned color-commentator, had been leaking game documents
to their opponents since 2014.
Though Elrod has not released a public statement on the scandal, the University has since fired him. Due to his decade-long relationship with the university, the commentators was in a unique position. According to Clawson
, the team “allowed him to have access to all of [their] practices” and “come in during the week and watch film”. Elrod was privy to detailed information about formations and alignments; information which he consequently passed on to their competitors.
Louisville’s head coach Bobby Petrino initially denied that he or the team had any knowledge of Wake Forest’s game plan, but a quick review showed that Elrod had reached out to Louisville on multiple occasions. After further investigation, the Louisville’s co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway
was suspended for accepting stolen information and passing it on to the defensive staff. The school’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, eventually admitted that they had cheated, but claimed none of the plays they received were ever run, so it made no difference.
“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”
Indiana University (IU) has also comes under scrutiny due to coach Brian Knorr’s ties to Tommy Elrod
. Although the men worked together briefly at Wake Forest, but there’s currently no evidence
that indicates IU is involved in the scandal.
Though Elrod’s motivation still remains unclear, Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson has made no secret of how he feels. “[Our players] were cheated,” Clawson told the Journal
. “They were not given a fair chance to compete on multiple occasions, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We found out what happened. We found out who did it. They’re no longer part of our program. Now we need to move forward and try to win a bowl game.”
On December 17
, ACC issued a $25,000.00 fine to both the University of Louisville and Virginia Tech, the highest fine allowed under their bylaws.
Of course, the most interesting detail was pointed out by sportswriter Joe Giglio
, who noted that “If Tommy Elrod was fixing games, he was awful at it. Wake Forest outright won 3 of the 5 #Wakeyleaks games