Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wake Forest Football Leaks of 2016 – “Wakeyleaks” (2016)

Wake Forest was the team whose plays were leaked during the 2016 season

Wake Forest University is a private co-educational liberal arts university located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The university was founded in 1834 and has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,955 with a graduate enrollment of 3,013. The Wake Forest Demon Decans compete in 18 sports in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) at the NCAA Division 1 level (Quick Facts). The school’s football team started play in 1908, have an all-time winning percentage of .403, have won two conference championships, and are 7 for 11 in bowl games (Wake Forest).

Tommy Elrod started in the university’s football program as a player in 1994 and he went on to become a graduate assistant for the program from 1999 to 2001, served on the Wofford College coaching staff in 2002, before returning to Wake Forest as a full on assistant coach in 2003. In 2014, when Dave Clawson was hired as the Demon Decans’ new head coach he removed Elrod from the coaching staff ending his 11-year run. Following his termination, Elrod began to commentate on Wake Forest games over the radio for the IMG Radio Network and remained an important member of the program, retaining access to practices, the film room, and contact with players (Auerbach). On November 12, 2016 Wake Forest lost their game to the Louisville Cardinals 44-12. After the loss, it was discovered that Louisville had left behind information pertaining to plays that the Demon Decans has not run before. In response to the discovery, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said the following “There was somehow a breach, I've shared it with our athletics director and we're trying to find out what happened. (Wolken)”. The Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino denied any knowledge of plays being shared and the school’s athletic director Tom Jurich claimed that these plays were not used in any games. Following an investigation, it was revealed that Elrod was the man behind the breach which was dubbed “Wakeyleaks” after university officials checked e-mail, text message, and phone records (Lowe). After it was discovered that Tommy Elrod had been the source of the problem the university’s director of athletics Ron Wellerman said “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. (Myerberg)” Following the accusations, Elrod couldn’t be reached for questions by the media and his twitter account was deleted within hours of the news breaking (Lowe).
In December of 2016 it was confirmed by Louisville that Elrod spoke with their program’s offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway, also a former coach from Wake Forest, and he shared a few plays with the defensive staff. Again, these plays were not used in any games by Wake Forest and therefore Louisville didn’t have that sort of advantage in their game against the Demon Decans. It was also discovered that this was not the first time that Elrod had shared plays with the team’s opponents. He had been sharing plays, or at least attempting to share plays, with the team’s opponents for just over two years, starting when Clawson was hired as the program’s new head coach in 2014. Wake Forest’s athletic department contacted both the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the United States Military Academy’s athletic departments as they have both been opponents of the team since Elrod was fired as a coach. No other schools in their conference (the ACC) were contacted about receiving any plays from Elrod (Adelson). Following the incident Tommy Elrod was terminated with Wake Forest IMG and has been banned from all facilities. The coach that had fired Elrod just over two seasons prior commented that “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. (Lowe)” Even Elrod’s former coach and boss at Wake Forest offered the following comments in defense of Elrod. “It's beyond incomprehensible to me, if Tommy made any mistakes, I know he didn't do it maliciously. I was just shocked when I heard this. He certainly wouldn't want to hurt Wake Forest. (Adelson)"

Tommy Elrod as a coach with Wake Forest


Stakeholders are all the parties that are affected by the unethical actions that take place. In this case, the stakeholders include the Wake Forest athletic officials such as the athletic director, the players, and the coaches. Athletic officials, players and coaches are affected by the case because Elrod possibly caused them to lose games which took away from their potential to win a conference or national title. It also shows that they are clearly not very good at keeping confidential information secret and they and they give it to people who are no longer working directly with the program. Other stakeholders are on the Louisville side, this includes similar players such as school officials, athletic officials, coaches, and of course players. These stakeholders are affected because the case shows that Louisville has possibly cheated in winning a game this season. The players are specifically affected because this case and the public relations that they received for being a part of it will ride with them for their entire careers and will impact them in their future. This includes star quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson who is expected to be selected in next year’s NFL draft.
An individualist is someone who cares more about the increase of revenues and profits than anything else, even the well-being of the stakeholders, as long as it’s done within the restraints of the law (Salazar 17). Although there was no revenue directly lost due to the actions that Elrod took, eventually due how the impression that the scenario gives the program, there will be a loss in revenues. Therefore, individualists would have a negative opinion on Elrod’s actions and consider them to be unethical. After the leaking of confidential team information by Tommy Elrod, the public’s perception of the Wake Forest football program has taken a negative blow. It’s now public knowledge that the program’s officials have allowed former employees, who were fired from their jobs as coaches, to be a part of typically private team activities such as practices, video sessions, and meetings. It appears to the public as if the university’s athletic program is not very good at keeping confidential information private and they are not paying attention to their important game materials. This can lead many fans and other consumers alike to believe the school doesn’t truly care about winning games, causing them to stop purchasing tickets to games as the contests get less and less interesting. It can only be expected that profits will drop across the board because the image this controversy gives the school, and how the public perceives the program. An individualist would think that it’s good that the university’s football program has acted to make sure that a breach of security like this will never happen again in order to prevent further loss of profits.
Utilitarianistic beliefs state that by looking at the consequences of an event, you can determine the ethical significance that the event carries (DesJardins 29). Someone with utilitarian views would consider the actions of Elrod to be unethical, this is because it negatively effects all the stakeholders involved in the scenario starting with the staff, coaches, and players for Wake Forest. Also effected are the staff, coaches, and players from Louisville, and even Tommy Elrod himself. The most effected stakeholder in this scenario is the school’s athletic director and football staff such as the head coach because it makes it look like they have poor security and cannot keep confidential information private. Many of the revenues that college football programs bring in come from outside donors and the leak of their football plays starts to raise questions about how the program is using the money that is brought in from donations. The leak also effects Wake Forest’s players in many ways, most notably the players feeling as if they were kept from achieving a fair and true win in the game because Louisville knew how they were practicing and preparing for the game. It will also hurt any player looking to enter the NFL draft as their draft stock could decrease because of losing all these games that the team could have won if their plays were not leaked. On Louisville’s end their players are affected by having this mindset on their back that the public thinks they could have unethically won this game, Louisville’s quarterback and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is projected to be a top pick in next year’s NFL draft and this scandal could have an effect his draft stock. The athletic staff at Louisville is also affected because it makes the entire program look even worse with this piled on top of the prostitution scandal that the school recently suffered from. It gives the athletic department an image that they had unethically cheated to win their game against Wake Forest. Furthermore, the actions that Elrod took then made the university look bad as the action is now associated with the school. The last stakeholder who is negatively affected by this is Tommy Elrod himself, who because of this scandal is now unemployed. He also must go on with his life being known as the man who gave confidential team information to the team’s opponents which causes him to look untrustworthy. At the end of the day, it is unlikely that any other school or broadcast station will hire him now because he clearly cannot be trusted.


Louisville's home stadium (Papa John's Cardinal Stadium),
 the location where the plays were discovered
Kant would react to this case by saying that Tommy Elrod’s actions were unethical. This is because he broke one of the core values of Kantianism and took away the stakeholders’ autonomy (Salazar 17). Autonomy is one’s control over their own actions and the freedom to choose which actions to take. Unfortunately, due to the actions Elrod took the players, coaches, and staff at Wake Forest had little autonomy and were cheated out of wins and overall, out of a successful season. By judging Tommy Elrod’s behavior, we can determine what motivated him to take these actions. When he was let go from the coaching staff by new head coach Dave Clawson in 2014, he must have been angry that such a high tenured coach like himself would be let go. This gave him the motivation to take revengeful actions against the program, making the players and coaches his victims. Elrod also violated both the formula of humanity and the formula of universal law in relation to this case, these two formulas are part of the framework that his work is built around. The formula of humanity says that you should act in the way you treat humanity and not use them to get what you want (Salazar 22). In layman terms it means to treat others with respect and to not use others to accomplish your personal goals. Elrod violated the formula of humanity in both ways by giving Wake Forest’s plays to their opponents. He disrespected the players and coaches by abusing the privileges that they gave him because of his tenure with the program. He also risked the team’s success and reputation to get what he wanted, revenge for being fired. Elrod also violated the formula of universal law which states that you should only act in a way that can become a universal law (Salazar Kantian 6). A universal law is a rule that is universally accepted as a general law for all of humanity. A universal law that he violated was to treat all members of society fairly and to not keep them from achieving their full potential in society. He violated this law because he did not treat the members of the Wake Forest football program fairly and by giving plays to their opponents kept them from achieving their full potential on the field.

Virtue Theory
In virtue theory, we think about who the party committing the actions is, and how their character traits relate to the actions they committed. When new head coach Dave Clawson came in, Elrod was relieved of his duties as an assistant coach and then moved into the broadcast booth. Since he was fired as a coach, Elrod’s happiness went down because he felt as if he did his job poorly. This caused him to be disgruntled and to hold a grudge against the new coach which caused him to give the team’s plays to their opponents. The virtues of Elrod clearly are negative in this situation, causing him to act unethically under virtue theory. There are four main virtues that are relevant to business activities are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Elrod went against each of these virtues by handing over confidential team information to their opponents. He violated the courage virtue by standing and committing actions that are morally wrong, theft. He disobeyed the honesty virtue by poorly treating the other stakeholders such as players and coaches by preventing them from being successful. He went against the virtue of temperance because he didn’t have reasonable desires, he desired something that is morally wrong and not accepted in our society. Finally, the justice virtue is violated because he did not use fair practice in his actions, as in his actions are not right and just (Salazar Ch5. 1).

Adelson, A. (2016, December 15). Louisville denies leaked Wake Forest info had any impact on game. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
Auerbach, N. (2016, December 14). Wake Forest leak scandal: Who is ex-radio announcer and coach Tommy Elrod? Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
DesJardins, J. R. (2014). An introduction to business ethics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Lowe, K. (2016, December 13). Radio analyst and alum Tommy Elrod was the leakin' Deacon, Wake Forest finds. Retrieved November 27, 2017, from
Myerberg, P. (2016, December 14). Wake Forest investigation reveals radio announcer leaked game plans. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
“Quick Facts | Undergraduate Admissions | Wake Forest University.” Undergraduate Admissions,
Salazar, H. (n.d.). The Business Ethics Case Manual: The Authoritative Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Improving the Ethics of Any Business.
Salazar, H. (n.d.). Kantian Business Ethics.
Salazar, H. (n.d.). 5. Business Ethics and Virtue [PDF].
Sanchez, M. W. (2016, December 13). Wake Forest announcer was mole in game-plan scandal twist. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
Tracy, M. (2016, December 15). Despite Wake Forest Leak, Coaches' Code Is Stronger Than Stolen X's and O's. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from
Wake Forest Demon Deacons Index. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from
Wolken, D. (2016, November 16). Wake Forest investigates whether plays leaked to or stolen by Louisville. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from

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