CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson assistant coach Danny Pearman said he made a “grave mistake” when he repeated a racial slur to ex-Tigers tight end D.J. Greenlee at practice three years ago.
The incident came to light Tuesday when former player Kanyon Tuttle posted about it on social media. Tuttle was responding to the school’s post of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s comments Monday about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air.
Tuttle’s post said, “You allowed a coach to call a player the N-word during practice with no repercussions. Not even a team apology.”
Pearman is white, and Greenlee is black.
Pearman said while he did not direct the slur at Greenlee, “I know there is no excuse for me using the language in any circumstance. I never should have repeated the phrase. It was wrong when I said it, and it is wrong today.”
Greenlee told The State of Columbia, South Carolina, that he and a teammate were having an argument and the tight end used the slur during the exchange. Pearman heard Greenlee and used it back. He was trying to “correct me by saying the” slur, Greenlee said.
Pearman said Greenlee “appropriately” brought the matter to Swinney. Swinney and Pearman had a meeting, and the head coach told the assistant his language was “unacceptable.”
Pearman said he apologized to Greenlee after practice and to his position groups the next day.
Pearman said he’d never do anything “to intentionally hurt” Clemson players.
“I sincerely apologize to D.J., his family, our team and our staff,” Pearman concluded.