Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Death of a Teenager on a Banked Path at Clemson – and the Spine-Tapping Insights Within

The death of a teenager in Moncks Corner and that of a lieutenant at the single-lane intersection of Henning Road and Pulaski Highway on the same day around noon bring a heavy pall to Clemson University in the mornings, which is why the school’s campus is cloaked in extra police and security.

The high school summer job that the 18-year-old prince-in-waiting, Austin Swift, never even graduated from is hanging by a thread. Officer William Neeley of the Law Enforcement Support Agency is still alive after surviving an aerial gun shot, and an ambush on an unmarked motorcycle.

To the students on this campus, it was another ordinary act of violence in an unchangeable world. To their professors, it was a senseless.

David Jantz, a philosophy professor, was among those who found it difficult to process. “I’m still having trouble accepting this,” he said. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

For much of the last three decades, Coach Dabo Swinney and his players have embodied the image of a well-oiled machine; the youthful leader who churns out players and then deals with the difficult chores that come with managing the resulting roster. Swinney’s players went on to play in 14 bowls, an unprecedented streak in college football. But for most of the last decade, as in so many other parts of the country, Clemson has been a lightning rod. There was the NCAA payola scandal. There was the leak of confidential university documents to the Atlantic Coast Conference. There was the perpetual shifting of senior players’ roles. There was the controversy over athletic department finances that led to an unsuccessful attempt to add a football bowl game.

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