Ex-Clemson TE Says Assistant Coach Used N-Word in 2017; Coach Apologizes in Statement

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Former Clemson tight end D.J. Greenlee said on Tuesday that assistant coach Danny Pearman used the n-word in speaking to the tight end during a practice in 2017, according to a report from The State's Matt Connolly. 

Greenlee told The State that Pearman, "apologized the rest of that season."

"He knew he was in the wrong," Greenlee said. "You can't hold a grudge against someone forever."

Pearman issued a public apology Tuesday night, saying, in part:

"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.

"While I did not direct the term at any player, 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."

News of the incident follows a post on social media on Tuesday from Kanyon Tuttle, a former football player at Clemson and son of former Tigers standout Perry Tuttle, that alleged a Tigers coach called a player "the n-word during practice with no repercussions. Not even a team apology."

Tuttle did not identify the coach nor the player in his initial post.

"It was just a heated argument during practice, basically," Greenlee said of the incident. "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, who played tight end for the Tigers between 2013 and 2016, told The State that he spoke with head coach Dabo Swinney about the incident on Tuesday. 

The tight end appeared in 23 games with the Tigers, serving mainly as a reserve on offense and special teams contributor.