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Wake Forest says its radio announcer gave secret game plan info to opponents for years

Louisville says an assistant coach who knew Wake’s alleged mole received info on “a few plays” that weren’t run during their game.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

On Nov. 12, the Wake Forest football team lost at Louisville, 44-12. The Demon Deacons had a second-half lead, but things fell apart down the stretch, and the Cardinals blew them out. After the game, Wake coach Dave Clawson said he was worried that Louisville, perhaps, had gotten its hands on some of Deacs’ game plan documents. Athletic director Ron Wellman said a member of Wake’s travel party had come across such documents while in Louisville for the game.

Clawson said he was “concerned that there was some type of security breach,” and Wake started up an investigation. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said he had “no knowledge of the situation,” and the story quieted down.

Now, the Deacs are convinced they’ve got a mole. Their investigation found that Tommy Elrod, a former Deacs assistant under Jim Grobe who’s been a team radio color commentator since 2014, snitched or attempted to leak Wake Forest game documents over a period of years, ostensibly to opponents other than Louisville.

The athletic department says Elrod “provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions, starting in 2014,” so the accusations by Wake stretch well before this November. Wake’s press release on the matter says Elrod is out as a radio commentator and banned from the team’s facilities.

Wednesday, Louisville’s athletic director released more information, which appears to contrast somewhat with Petrino’s statements at the time:

The ACC’s also taking a look.

A call to Elrod on Tuesday evening wasn’t immediately returned.

Elrod is a Wake Forest alum. He played football for the Deacs from 1993 to 1997 and served in various positions on Grobe’s Wake staffs for 11 seasons. When Clawson took over the program in 2014, Elrod wasn’t part of his staff, but he started broadcasting games.

Wake’s press release calling Elrod the leak gets pretty grim. Here’s Clawson, who says Elrod had “full access” to players, the film room, and Deacs practices:

I am extremely disappointed that our confidential and proprietary game preparation was compromised. It’s incomprehensible that a former Wake Forest student-athlete, graduate-assistant, full-time football coach, and current radio analyst for the school, would betray his alma mater. We allowed him to have full access to our players, team functions, film room, and practices. He violated our trust which negatively impacted our entire program. I am glad we have taken steps to ensure it will not happen in the future. At this point, this is a matter for Ron Wellman and others to act on. My staff and I are focused on Temple and preparing the team for the Military Bowl.

And here’s Wellman, the AD:

I have known Tommy Elrod since his days as a player on our football team. I’m deeply disappointed that he would act against Wake Forest, our football team and our fans in such a harmful manner by compromising confidential game preparation information. It is a relief that the team can move forward without his actions further undermining the positive strides Dave Clawson, his staff and the team have made. All of us are now preparing for final exams and the Military Bowl and continuing to build an outstanding football program.

There is nothing to see here. Just a Power 5 college football program accusing a former player and coach (and current radio announcer) of engaging in years-long espionage to pass game secrets to opponents.

Wake Forest plays Temple in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). It’ll be the Deacs’ first bowl game since 2011.