Clemson assistant coach apologizes for using N-word

Field Level Media

June 03, 2020 at 2:53 am.

A former Clemson tight end confirmed that a Tigers assistant coach used the N-word at a practice three years ago, and that coach, Danny Pearman, apologized late Tuesday night for using the pejorative term.

The former player, D.J. Greenlee, told The State newspaper that Pearman did not call him the N-word and that the special teams and tight ends coach “apologized the rest of that season.” Greenlee played at Clemson 2013-16.

“It was just a heated argument during practice, basically. Me and the coach got into it and I was speaking with one of my teammates. He heard me use the N-word basically, and basically tried to correct me by saying the N-word back,” Greenlee told The State.

“He wasn’t saying that I was a N-word,” Greenlee told The State.

Pearman released a statement through the university Tuesday night apologizing for the incident.

“Three years ago on the practice field, I made a grave mistake involving D.J. Greenlee. I repeated a racial slur I overheard when trying to stop the word from being used on the practice field. What I overheard, I had no right to repeat,” Pearman said in the statement.

The incident garnered national attention earlier Tuesday when former Clemson receiver Kanyon Tuttle took to Twitter to chastise Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney over the incident.

“You allowed a coach to call a player the n-word during practice with no repercussions. Not even a team apology,” Tuttle tweeted, in part, without naming Pearman.

Not so, said Greenlee.

“Coach Swinney explained to me what was going on,” Greenlee told The State. “He said he was going to talk with coach Pearman. I don’t know if he did. Coach Pearman apologized.”

Pearman “apologized the rest of that season. He knew he was in the wrong,” Greenlee told The State, adding that he accepted the apology.

“You can’t hold a grudge against someone forever,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee said he spoke with Swinney again Tuesday, but Swinney did not make any public statements regarding the controversy.