Tuesday afternoon Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman announced that Tommy Elrod, a member of the radio broadcast team for Wake Forest football games, had been fired. The reason for Elrod’s firing was that after an investigation he was found to be giving opposing teams information on the Demon Deacons’ game plan as far back as the 2014 season. Elrod has a long history with the Wake Forest athletic department and the football program, dating back to 1993.
Here’s what you need to know about Elrod.
1. Elrod is Alleged to Have Divulged Information As Far Back as 2014
While Wake Forest didn’t begin a formal investigation into the possible leaking of information until the days following their loss to No. 5 Louisville on November 12 (more on that below), in the school’s statement Tuesday the athletic department stated that information leaks began in 2014. Elrod was hired by IMG Sports in 2014 to serve as the color commentator for football games on the Wake Forest radio network.
In the release announcing Elrod’s firing the school stated the following: “Based on emails, text messages and phone records, Tommy Elrod, a radio announcer for Wake Forest football games, provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions, starting in 2014.”
2. Elrod Spent 11 Seasons on Jim Grobe’s Staff Before the School Hired Clawson
Elrod first began working with the football program in 2003, when he was hired by then-head coach Jim Grobe as a graduate assistant. During his 11 years working at Wake Forest, Elrod held a variety of positions on Grobe’s staffs before the head coach decided to step down at the end of the 2013 season. Wake Forest hired Clawson from Bowling Green just over a week after Grobe’s resignation became official, and the new head coach made the decision to not retain Elrod. Elrod would be hired by IMG Sports to work as part of the Wake Forest IMG Sports Network prior to the start of the 2014 season.
3. Elrod Played Football at Wake Forest From 1993-97
Not only did Elrod have experience in the Wake Forest football program as a coach, but he also played four seasons at the school. Elrod was a quarterback during his time as a player, and in the final years of his time on Jim Grobe’s coaching staff he served as the quarterbacks coach. Those deep connections to the school are what made his decision to give valuable information to opponents so shocking to Clawson. As a result of his actions, Elrod has been banned from the athletic department.
“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,” Clawson said in Tuesday’s release. “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.”
4. Wake Forest Began Its Investigation Following a Loss to Louisville in November
On November 12 the Demon Deacons visited then-No. 6 Louisville, and through three quarters Dave Clawson’s team more than held its own with the team led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. Wake Forest led 12-3 at the half, and with a Brandon Radcliff touchdown run being the only points of the third quarter the Demon Deacons took a 12-10 lead into the game’s final 15 minutes.
Everything changed in the fourth quarter, with the Cardinals scoring 34 points to win the game by the final score of 44-12. Things got interesting the day before the game however, with the discovery of materials left behind by Louisville that focused on plays that Wake Forest had not run in prior games. According to the Winston-Salem Journal Clawson informed Wellman of the discovery shortly thereafter.
5. Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino Denied Any Wrongdoing on His Program’s Part
Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman informed ACC commissioner John Swofford and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich on November 16 that the school had launched an investigation into the possible leaking of information. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed the investigation during the ACC coaches teleconference that week, with Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino denying any wrongdoing on the part of he or his coaching staff.
Wednesday afternoon Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich confirmed that Elrod gave information to Louisville offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway prior to the game. Per the release Galloway and Elrod have known each other since 2007, and the information exchanged was given to the Louisville defensive staff.
As a result of that communication Louisville was fined $25,000 by the Atlantic Coast Conference. Also fined $25,000 by the ACC was Virginia Tech, which was also ruled to have a coach (Shane Beamer) who communicated with Elrod regarding Wake Forest game plans. For his role in the scandal Beamer, the son of former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer and a current assistant at Georgia, was fined $25,000 by the University of Georgia. Beamer made the move from Virginia Tech to Georgia after his father retired at the end of the 2015 season.