Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney has hit back at allegations that his program has been pushing Christianity on its players.
Swinney was accused by the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation of fostering a culture on his team that crosses the line between church and state set out in the Constitution.
But Swinney, who has been open in the past about his devotion to God and his Christian faith, insisted that he welcomes people of all faiths on his football team, including no faith, The State
in South Carolina reports.
"Over the past week or two, there has been a lot of discussion of my faith," he said. "We have three rules in our program that everybody must follow: 1. Players must go to class; 2. They must give a good effort; and 3. They must be good citizens. It is as simple as that.
"I have recruited and coached players of many different faiths. Players of any faith or no faith at all are welcome in our program. All we require in the recruitment of any player is that he must be a great player at his position, meet the academic requirements, and have good character."
Swinney, who recently signed an eight-year deal worth $27 million, continued,
"Recruiting is very personal. Recruits and their families want -- and deserve -- to know who you are as a person, not just what kind of coach you are. I try to be a good example to others, and I work hard to live my life according to my faith.
"I am proud of the great success we have had in developing good players and good men at Clemson. We win at the highest level, and we graduate players who excel on the field and in life because of their time in Death Valley.
"I want to thank Clemson University and all the people who have reached out to offer their support and encouragement over the past few weeks."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based religious watchdog group, had sent a letter
to the public university in Clemson, S.C., earlier this month demanding that school officials stop the "commingling of religion and athletics."
The nonprofit organization said that the 21,000-student institution must end the department’s emphasis on prayers, Bible studies, and other religious activities, including busing players to local churches for Sunday services.
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