|by David Hood|
This is part two, and it deals mainly with facilities.
TN: What is the first thing you feel like you have to handle first here, or what do you think needs to be accomplished first as you begin your tenure here?
DR: “I think you have to evaluate the strengths and weakness of the program. I think every program has some things it does really well, and every program has some things that need shoring up. That could be anything from personnel – square peg in round hole type of issues – or just getting people in the right boat. There are facility issues to issues on campus as far as how it relates to the campus and individuals. I think it is important to have good relationships with the campus. Seven Saturdays a year, we have a lot of people that visit our campus. How do we accentuate that and make it a positive? How do we continue to make that experience for the 80,000 people that come here a positive one? What kind of facilities do we have? And one of the things I have learned over time is that a facility I might like or one that I might build is not necessarily the kind of facility that a 16 or 17 or 18-year old young man or young woman would find attractive in pursuit of their academic needs. We need to build facilities that will allow student-athletes to choose Clemson for their education, and then make sure that while they are here they are getting the best opportunity to grow their academic and athletic base.”
TN: Speaking of facilities, have you ever walked into a situation where there is so much going on with facilities?
DR: “In the various stops I have had, I have had situations where you have new facilities and you have to figure out how to pay for them or they had money and they didn’t have facilities and you just had to build things. This is kind of in the middle. There are some things that need to get done, but with the financial base that is here we have the opportunity to go out and do those things. But we have to carefully consider how we go about getting things done. What we do is not splitting the atom. It is important not only to our coaches and student-athletes but to our fans. We need to make some decisions in a timely way as to where we move ahead with some facility interaction. We are in a beautiful part of the state. This is almost idyllic in a lot of ways, and we need to make sure that our facilities work with our surroundings. This that might work at another place you don’t need to do here because you have an opportunity for land and for things to be pulled together in an orderly fashion. That is something that myself and four or five people that I will pull together will sit down and think about what facility we need to build and how we need to build it. And then go out and through the IPTAY Fund go out and raise money to offset the cost of building it.”
TN: How important is it to upgrade what Clemson has basketball-wise in order to compete in the ACC?
DR: “That is an interesting question. Is it all about practice or is it about game atmosphere? I think that is one of the things that has to be talked about and really studied and studied quickly in order to understand where that balance is. You have to have quality practice facilities for student-athletes to want to come, but you also have to have a great game atmosphere for people to want to come to the games and support those athletes. Great practice facilities don’t do a whole lot if you don’t have great support when you’re playing the game. So that balance has to be struck. In the short time I have here, we haven’t figured that out yet but that is high on the list.”
TN: How do you get the students involved?
DR: “I think in the three football games I attended, our students were great. I was at the basketball against Purdue, and there were a number of students there. But students set the tone and that is the great separator between college and pro sports – it’s the band, the students, the cheerleaders and the college atmosphere. We have to make sure that our students have the incentive to support our athletic programs so they can continue to grow. And then when they graduate, making sure they keep that connection. Those are all important items that our staff will keep knocking off one at a time.”
TN: When do you expect to be here full-time?
DR: “I am here. I have an apartment. My wife is still in Atlanta, and she is there selling the house. I actually started last week and I am full go.”
TN: How long do you expect to work with Terry Don Phillips and how long do you expect it to be before you are fully up to speed?
DR: “I think that Terry Don has been fantastic and I have the greatest respect for him. We have been colleagues and friends for many years. He is moving into a role right now within the president’s office, and right now I am drinking from the proverbial fire hose in getting information. I certainly am looking forward to getting some quiet time with Terry Don, and asking him, ‘Did you think about this? Why did you go in this direction?’ I don’t think the founding of the internet is in future of college athletics. There have been some great ideas that have been placed on the shelf simply because it wasn’t their time. So to be able to re-visit some of those things and see if this is the time to make some of the changes; that is the historical perspective that Terry Don will be able to help me with.”
David Hood can be reached at email@example.com