Clemson loses recruits, reviews admissions process

Updated: February 13, 2007, 9:28 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Nearly a week after Clemson's football team lost two highly regarded recruits because of academic concerns, university President James F. Barker pledged Tuesday to review the admissions process.

The issue took center stage last week when Tigers recruits receiver Dwight Jones and tailback Jo Jo Cox were denied admission by the school's Athletic Advisory Review Committee. Since then, Tigers fans have lit up phone lines on sports talk shows and filled Internet message boards critical of the decision.

Clemson may decide to keep the admissions process the same or make modifications, Barker said. His only goal will be maintaining academic integrity while "not putting Clemson at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

"Few are improved through hasty changes made in anger or in response to criticism," Barker wrote. "I will commit that Clemson will conduct a thorough review of its process, with full involvement of faculty, admissions officials and athletics staff."

"The bottom line is that our process is not perfect, but it also is not a barrier to competitiveness as some have suggested."

After starting last season 7-1 and rising to No. 10 in the country, Clemson dropped four of its final five games and ended 8-5. Those defeats included a 31-28 loss to rival South Carolina and a 28-20 defeat to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden did not comment last week when asked about the admissions process or the message it sent to Tigers coaches.

On Tuesday, Bowden welcomed the review. "I have confidence that the university administration understands the importance of recruiting on a level playing field," Bowden said in a statement. "And that we will be able to recruit on a level playing field in the future."

Jones, from Burlington, N.C., eventually signed with North Carolina. Cox, who played last season at Fork Union Academy after signing at Clemson in February 2006, has not yet signed to play anywhere. There are reports that Clemson is reviewing Cox's case again.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press