Swinney had been scheduled to receive an award from the Palmetto Family Council at an event on June 2 but faced backlash from Clemson students and a South Carolina politician due to the organization's aims.
"I had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy," Swinney said in a statement. "It was my understanding that the nomination and election for this award was based on the work done by our 'All In Foundation' and the difference it is making in our community. My acceptance of this award was to be on behalf of all the volunteers that make our foundation a success."
South Carolina state representative Todd Rutherford, who had called for Swinney to decline the invitation, praised the coach for backing out of the engagement.
Last spring, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Clemson alleging Swinney's Christianity was too closely intertwined with the football program at the state-funded university.
- Dan Gartland