- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Freedom From Religion Foundation has lodged a letter of complaint to Clemson, charging coach Dabo Swinney and his staff with "unconstitutional behavior" at the public university.
Among the concerns outlined in the complaint by the FFRF, based on information obtained from an open records request: Swinney personally invited James Trapp to become team chaplain, in violation of the Constitution and university guidelines on hiring chaplains; the coach schedules team devotionals and has organized transportation to take coaches and players to "Church Days;" and has given Trapp access to the entire team for Bible studies.
University spokeswoman Cathy Sams issued a statement saying the school would evaluate the complaints raised but believes Swinney and his staff are not violating the Constitution.
"Participation in religious activities is purely voluntary, and there are no repercussions for students who decline to do so," the statement said. "We are not aware of any complaints from current or former student-athletes about feeling pressured or forced to participate in religious activities."
Swinney is not being made available to comment, but he has been outspoken in his religious views. In December, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Swinney tells recruits on visits, "I'm a Christian. If you have a problem with that, you don't have to be here."
The report itself presents in great detail how religion and the program are entwined.
15hAndrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna