Clemson Athletics Under Fire


Faith and Football

I was on Fox and Friends last week to discuss the controversy at Clemson University concerning too much emphasis on Christianity in their football program. It seems a group from Wisconsin called The Freedom From Religion Foundation thought the football staff was going overboard with their stance on Christianity even though there had been no complaints by the staff or players.

When I was the Head Coach at Clemson I was approached twice from the ACLU with the same concerns. The ACLU was concerned I was using buses paid for by the university to take my team to church once a year. So I said that was no problem. The next Sunday we loaded up in cars and went anyway.  There was no way that I was going to hide my Christianity!  So I made sure numerous voluntary resources and events were available to my team and strongly encouraged them to engage. What were the resources? We encouraged regularly attending a local church, weekly Bible studies, and organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  I made available faith based mentors, and motivational speakers who would speak around a Christian theme.

Why would I encourage this? I thought the best chance for my players to be successful, on the field and off, was for them to make good decisions. The NCAA (the governing body of college football) restricts the amount of time that a coaching staff can spend with his players. I needed as many resources as possible to help my players make good decisions. The local church is a place where people went to learn how to make good decisions. The Bible is a book about making good decisions. A small group Bible Study is a group of people who meet to try to learn about making good decisions. If my success as a coach depended on whether my players could learn these five principles -commitment, accountability, responsibility, discipline, and sacrifice – what better person to study than Jesus Christ? Why would anybody not want their players to make good decisions or learn these five basic foundations of character?

Don’t look for the Clemson coach or administration to back down anytime soon. The only thing they love more than football in the south, is their religion!



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