PRESIDENTIAL ATTITUDE DEFINED
Clemson University has been the subject of a great deal of negative publicity in the past few months. Our football program and some individuals in and outside it were found to have violated numerous NCAA recruiting regulations. A number of the violations were extremely serious.
In all my statements on this matter, I have never tried to deny, excuse or minimize the significance of these violations. In fact, I have gone out of my way to apologize to the people of my state for the embarrassment this regrettable situation has caused us all. I have also taken steps to help ensure this situation will not arise at Clemson again.
I say this to let you know I am writing not to complain about the recent comments about me in the SCORECARD section of your magazine (Dec. 6), but rather to explain to you and your readers the context in which I made the remarks attributed to me there.
I have often made statements similar to the two you quoted about "sloppy procedures" and "letting someone steal a penny a day from your desk and not stopping them until they've stolen a thousand dollars." However, you drew an inference from those remarks that is 180 degrees wrong.
The points I have always made with those statements are: 1) that slack administrative procedures in athletics can create a climate in which both major and minor rules violations can occur and go undetected for a long time, and 2) that it would be better if the NCAA, the conferences, other schools—or whoever—would alert a college president to suspected rules infractions immediately, so that preventive action could be taken if warranted. Perhaps then the college president could take earlier corrective action to keep NCAA rules violations at his school from becoming epidemic.
You headlined your item about Clemson "Presidential Attitudes." While not denying your right to interpret my statements as you see fit, I do take issue with the practice of using, out of context, statements made on two separate occasions and juxtaposing them in such a way as to indicate an attitude that simply doesn't exist.
I feel an obligation as a university president to assure you, your readers, Clemson people, sports fans and my colleagues in higher education that my attitude is accurately reflected in the following statements, which were also made, publicly, in my response to the NCAA sanctions:
"We are a community of scholars. There is no place in this community for cheating—in the classroom, in the laboratory or on the playing field."
"This university isn't going to wink at abuses of any kind, by anyone connected with any athletic program or any other program at Clemson. I'm interested in correcting our own situation, but in such a way that we can establish a model program for others."
"If—after all the time, resources and effort that have gone into this investigation—the NCAA and Clemson and college athletics aren't better off for having gone through all this, then we have wasted an awful lot of time."
BILL L. ATCHLEY