Digital evidence is one of the most powerful tools investigators have in their toolkit. Most people don’t realize that every single email and text message you send may come back to haunt you if there is information contained within that demonstrates unethical or illegal activity. According to USA Today, former Wake Forest student-athlete, graduate assistant, and full-time assistant coach Tommy Elrod was recently caught providing Wake Forest’s football opponents the team’s weekly game plan.
Elrod was a radio announcer for the school’s football team and was apparently only caught after Wake Forest played Louisville and the people who were provided the leaked information left it at Wake Forest. As a member of the Wake Forest’s radio announcing team, Elrod had access to internal Wake Forest game plans. Its not uncommon for a former student-athletes and coaches to be able to obtain inside information about their former team, especially if this person is still employed by the school or works for the school’s radio or television network.
How long has Elrod had access to Wake Forest’s internal game day plans and how long has he been passing them along to Wake Forest’s opponents? According to Wake Forest, “[b]ased on emails, text messages and phone records,” [Elrod] “provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparation on multiple occasions” beginning in 2014.
Interestingly, it appears that this behavior may have continued but for Louisville leaving the evidence behind accidentally. Its not surprising that other teams who may have benefited from Elrod’s behavior did not come forward. Did Elrod receive any benefits from those who were provided Wake Forest game day plans? Its possible that Elrod and the opposing teams’ coaches who benefited from this activity may face sanctions from their schools, conference, or possible legal liability depending on the exact facts surrounding the matter.
Absent the digital evidence, its doubtful that Elrod would have been caught. Phone call logs, absent the recordings, are generally circumstantial evidence and without some type of paper or digital trail don’t offer robust details about a situation. Therefore, its imperative for colleges athletic departments to fully understand the growing digital issues in the Information Age.
Copyright 2016 by Brad Shear All rights reserved.