CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said Thursday that six to eight of his players returned to the Demon Deacons despite tampering efforts by other schools hoping to persuade them to transfer with promises of lucrative endorsement deals.
He said the offers to his players ranged in value from roughly $150,000 to around $500,000.
“I love the way (the players) handled it,” Clawson said during the final day of the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason media days. “They didn’t try to leverage, negotiate. They just wanted me to know as the head coach that these things are now going on in college football, which I knew.
“But when you get the firsthand examples of it, of ‘This school offered me this much to go there at this time,’ those are very real things.”
Coaches have talked broadly about tampering by schools trying to poach their rosters as the transfer portal allows for free player movement while players can also cash in with name, image and likeness (NIL) endorsement opportunities. Yet coaches rarely go into details beyond alleging it’s happening.
“You add (NIL) and transfer portal and the collision of the two and tampering, those are things that make it more difficult to be a head coach,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said earlier Thursday.
Clawson didn't identify the schools he said approached his players, saying only that none are in the ACC.
“One school did it with three different players,” Clawson said with a chuckle. “It was great: ‘No, no, no.’ And the money offers kept getting better.”
Tampering would seem to be a particular concern for a program like Wake Forest, which doesn't load and reload with five-star recruits. Instead, Clawson's program is about long-term development and retention of players who have gotten stronger and honed their skills over time — typically with a redshirt year — while building up game reps before assuming a waited-their-turn larger role.
The formula helped the Demon Deacons reach the ACC championship game in 2021.
“I give our players credit,” Clawson said. “They let us know after the fact. None of them came to me and said, ‘Coach, I have this offer to go here. What can the collective do?’
"They didn’t do that. ... All those guys stayed because they want to get Wake Forest degrees and they have a good relationship with their teammates. And you know, I would like the narrative to be a positive one."
Follow Aaron Beard at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap
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