CLEMSON — Clemson’s so-called “Girdle Gate” barely lasted as long as the team practices in question.
The NCAA informed the university late Monday afternoon that the Tigers will not lose two practices for wearing non-compliant uniforms during their first two practices last week.
Earlier Monday, coach Dabo Swinney revealed that the NCAA had levied the punishment because some players wore a style of compression shorts with pads — also known as girdles — that were ruled as protective gear.
“The NCAA gave further review to this situation and informed us this afternoon that we can have the full compliment of practices during the preseason,” Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said in a statement. “We are pleased with this decision.”
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NCAA spokeswoman Jennifer Kearns declined to provide an explanation for the rescindment, citing the governing body’s policy to not comment on matters related to secondary violations.
After an unknown party turned Clemson in to the ACC for the secondary violation, the conference approached the Tigers about holding two later practices in just jerseys and shorts.
Clemson believed that counterproductive, having already begun full contact practices in pads Saturday. So the NCAA initially agreed to allow Clemson to eliminate a pair of their allotted 29 practices, both coming from this week’s two-a-day sessions.
“We’ve got what I’m calling Girdle Gate going on around here,” coach Dabo Swinney said Monday.
The Tigers practiced Monday morning, and Swinney said afterward he had changed the scheduled evening practice to a walk-through, which is not deemed an on-field activity. He also planned to nix Friday’s second workout and hold a team outing instead.
Upon learning of the NCAA’s change-of-heart, Clemson held a two-hour practice Monday night. It was unclear if they will reinstate Friday evening’s practice.
Swinney said he had been unaware of the rule including the girdles, using them in open practices in front of the media.
He also said Clemson wore the same gear to open each of the previous three years’ practices.
“If you’re robbing a bank, you certainly wouldn’t invite the media to cover it, so there was obviously no intent to break a rule,” Swinney said.
“You can turn on the TV or Internet and find a lot of high-profile universities that wore the same exact attire we had on for the first two practices.”
Bylaw 220.127.116.11 (d) of the NCAA football handbook reads: During the first two days of the acclimatization period, helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear. During the third and fourth days of the acclimatization period, helmets and shoulder pads shall be the only pieces of protective equipment student-athletes may wear. During the final day of the five-day period and on any days thereafter, student-athletes may practice in full pads.
Once the news broke Monday, photos surfaced on Internet fan message boards of players from various ACC and SEC schools who appeared to be wearing similar padding, allegedly in their opening workouts.
Swinney said he was unaware of who reported Clemson to the ACC.
“We’re not arguing the rule,” Swinney said. “It is what it is. I told the team that for whatever the reason, nobody seemed to care the last few years. But I guess more people are watching us.”