Wake Forest finds that radio announcer leaked game plans

ByAndrea Adelson ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wake Forest has concluded that team radio announcer Tommy Elrod -- a former player and assistant coach -- provided or attempted to provide confidential game preparations to opponents several times starting in 2014, the school said in a statement on Tuesday.

The school began a programwide investigation last month after an equipment manager discovered documents inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium -- one day before Wake Forest's Nov. 12 game in Louisville -- that showed specific Demon Deacons plays.

Elrod has been fired from the IMG Radio Network and banned from Wake Forest athletics and its facilities.

Elrod played for Wake Forest from 1993 to 1997 and was later hired as a graduate assistant under Jim Grobe. Elrod held multiple positions for 11 seasons but was not retained by current head coach Dave Clawson.

Elrod joined IMG in 2014 as a football analyst after Clawson took over.

"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," Clawson said Tuesday in a statement.

Athletic director Ron Wellman said he has known Elrod since his days as a player on Wake's football team.

"I'm deeply disappointed that he would act against Wake Forest, our football team and our fans in such a harmful manner," Wellman said in a statement, "by compromising confidential game-preparation information."

Messages from ESPN.com to Elrod were not immediately returned.

After the Wake Forest play sheet was brought to Clawson's attention, the coach turned the documents over to Wellman and the investigation began. Wake Forest alerted Louisville and the ACC that it was investigating a potential internal breach of confidentiality.

In announcing the results of the investigation on Tuesday, the school cited emails, text messages and phone records in concluding that Elrod had tried to give out the confidential information.

Wake Forest said it has taken steps to enhance security of game-preparation activities moving forward.

"I am extremely disappointed that our confidential and proprietary game preparation was compromised," Clawson said.

"We allowed [Elrod] to have full access to our players, team functions, film room and practices. He violated our trust, which negatively impacted our entire program. I am glad we have taken steps to ensure it will not happen in the future."

Reached Tuesday by ESPN, Grobe had no comment. A Louisville spokesperson wouldn't comment other than to say: "Coach [Bobby] Petrino doesn't have a comment in what appears to be a Wake Forest issue."

Former Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner said the Tommy Elrod he knows is a "stand-up character guy" and one of the biggest reasons he went to Wake Forest. Skinner said he has talked to Elrod about once a month since leaving Wake Forest and that he put a Christmas card in the mail for Elrod two days ago.

"I'm honestly shocked and blown away from what I've been reading," Skinner said. "I'm praying that something has been blown out of proportion or there's some miscommunication, and I want to support him until I hear something from him. ... Alphonso Smith just called me, and all of my teammates -- everybody is just stunned and shocked, because the Tommy Elrod we know, he loved Wake Forest, he loved coaching. It's his alma mater. I just can't see him doing this. Strange doesn't even begin to describe the situation.

"I'm still praying there is some gap in this story. I'm hoping for the best for him and his family, because he's got three amazing kids and a great wife. ... I've reached out to him, but he's probably turning every bit of communication off."

ESPN's Heather Dinich contributed to this report.

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