Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Its stadium is nicknamed Death Valley, but the atmosphere there manages to be intense without the mean edge found elsewhere; some Clemson fans affix little tiger tails to the rear of their cars. It is the cutest team in college sports."

Clemson is getting a lot of love from the national media after that astonishing upset of Alabama. But we South Carolinians know about Clemson's darker side. Step into the time machine and travel back to the early 1970s, when (I am not kidding here; this is South Carolina) Clemson's basketball coach, Tates Locke, paid local black teenagers to pretend to be Clemson students at parties.

From Sports Illustrated:

Locke realized early on that if Clemson was going to be a basketball power, it had to woo quality black athletes. In the early '70s Clemson had a tiny black enrollment, and many people preferred to keep it that way. Because a congenial environment for blacks didn't exist at Clemson, Locke decided to create one. He calls it "the era of the Phony Black Fraternity."

Taking over an old Quonset hut on campus and converting it into a lounge, Locke created a "fraternity." When he wanted to impress a black recruit, he had people go into surrounding communities and bring back as many black high school students as possible to populate the building. These were the fraternity "members." Locke then hired bands and staged dances. When the recruit came in, he would be surrounded by a facade of minority bliss on campus.

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