Religion watchdog group lodges complaint to Clemson regarding Dabo Swinney

Thursday April 17th, 2014

Dabo Swinney (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Dabo Swinney is 51-23 in six seasons as head coach of the Tigers.  (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization that "works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church," according to its website, filed a letter of complaint with Clemson — a public, land-grant university of South Carolina — charging Tigers football coach Dabo Swinney and his staff with "unconstitutional behavior" regarding religion, Andrea Adelson of reported on Thursday.

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Among the FFRF's concerns were:

  • Swinney inviting James Trapp to become team chaplain, which according to the report violates the Constitution and university guidelines
  • Giving Trapp access to the team for Bible studies
  • Swinney scheduling team devotionals
  • Sweeney having organized transportation for coaches and players to "Church Days"

The school does not see an issue with such practices.

University spokeswoman Cathy Sams issued a statement that read, "Participation in religious activities is purely voluntary, and there are no repercussions for students who decline to do so. We are not aware of any complaints from current or former student-athletes about feeling pressured or forced to participate in religious activities."

Sams said the school will evaluate the complaints made but does not view Swinney in violation of separation of church and state. The story notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in December that the 44-year-old coach tells recruits on visits, "I'm a Christian. If you have a problem with that, you don't have to be here."

Swinney is 51-23 as head coach at Clemson, including a win in the 2014 Orange Bowl. SI WIRE: Report: Louisville signs $40 million deal with adidas

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