SLED Not Investigating Athletes

Despite various reports, the South Carolina Law Enforcement's open investigation into possible wrongdoings with the Clemson University Police Department and Chief Gregory Harris has nothing to do with giving athletes preferential treatment.

South Carolina 13th Circuit Solicitor Robert M. Ariail said Monday night that reports on WSPA News Channel 7 are inaccurate and that SLED's investigation into the university's police department does not concern whether or not athletes have been given preferential treatment.

And Ariail would know since he is the one that asked SLED to investigate the allegations of impropriety.

"It has nothing to do with student-athletes," he said. "I told (WSPA) today when they said they were going to report that, I said that was absolutely false. They said they had already written the story, so that they were going to report it anyway. What are you going to do? …

"I told Channel 7 not to run it and they ran it. I told them straight out that it had nothing to do with students."

Ariail, who graduated from Wofford and earned his law degree at South Carolina, said that a "disgruntled employee" of the Clemson University Police Department made some unverified accusations in at least three separate letters mailed anonymously to him.

Ariail, not wanting to dismiss it without first looking into the allegations, asked investigators at SLED to check things out.

"I wanted someone to look into whether the accusations had any substance to them," he said. "Not that I thought they were accurate or anything like that, I just didn't want to blow it off."

Ariail didn't say what the investigation, which has been ongoing since June, concerned. However, it has come close a couple of times to being closed.

"Every time we finish, we get another anonymous letter from this guy," Ariail said. "But they had no proof of it. They would just make these raw accusations. … And I just want to know if they have any substance."

SLED inspector Richard Hunton said there was an open investigation, but that he couldn't comment on the specifics of it.

Clemson University spokesperson Cathy Sams said she was first made aware of the allegations last week and that in terms of what was reported on WSPA, "We've looked into those allegations and haven't found any evidence of preferential treatment."

It is widely known that Harris is a Clemson sports supporter. He recently sang the National Anthem at National IPTAY Meeting in Columbia and is seen on the sidelines at away football games.

Ariail said he has not sure why the false reports went public.

"It's always nice if you check with the original source, because I was the one who asked the SLED agent to talk to these people who were alleged to have information," he said. "Then the next thing you know, somebody is reporting that somebody is being investigated. I'm not investigating Chief Harris because I don't have anything to investigate those people on."

* Picture courtesy of Greenville County.

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