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The impact of a religious football coach at a public school

FFRF last month filed a complaint with Clemson's Athletic Association, stating that a school-appointed team chaplain and team Bible studies is not a separation of church and state. How should a public university coach's faith play into his coaching?
Nathan Sorensen, Deseret News Modified: May 2, 2014 at 4:24 pm •  Published: May 5, 2014

A football coach at a public school is allowed to teach his players.

But can he also preach to them?

The answer is proving to be far from definitive.

In mid-April, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an official complaint with Clemson University, saying its football coach, Dabo Swinney, was scheduling unconstitutional religious devotionals and had hired a chaplain for the team, according to the FFRF website.

Swinney responded to the complaint via an Atlantic Coastal Conference press meeting, saying that he runs his team as any other in the nation, according to ESPN.

"Anything that we have in our program from a spiritual standpoint is and always has been voluntary. We're no different than any other program out there in how we operate as far as providing our players opportunities to grow in any aspect of their lives," Swinney said.

Clemson attorneys have responded as well, contending FFRF "misconstrued" facts in their complaint, according to the Post and Courier.

Later that month, Chris Wells, a high school football coach for Middletown High School in Ohio, also received a complaint from FFRF, which had been contacted by a parent troubled by the coach allegedly infusing religion into the program, the Journal-News reported.

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