Emotional Phillips says "time was right" to step down

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips broke into tears, and said a love of family and the desire to spend more time with them was the main reason he has decided to retire.

It was announced on Thursday that Phillips – who has been the athletic director for the past 10 years – would not seek a renewal on his Clemson contract, which ends in June. At a press conference in the McFadden Team Room at Jervey Thursday afternoon, university president James Barker said Phillips would have retired sooner if not for Barker’s intervention.

“He would have done this sooner if I had not talked him about it,” Barker said. “I urged him to stay. But I think they [Phillips and his wife] realized this is the right time. And I respect that. I have known for about six months that this was probably going to happen.”

Phillips broke down when he was asked how he knew this was the time to step down.

“You know, that is so subjective,” he said, before pausing as he grew emotional. “I am very blessed to have a wonderful wife. But it’s important that we have more time together.”

I spoke with Phillips privately at end of the press conference, and he said that he and his wife Trish are both in good health.

“I have had some health issues in the past,” Phillip said. “There were some complications, but I feel good right now. This is probably the best I have felt in a very long time.”

Earlier in the session, Phillips explained the reasons for his departure before explaining that he would continue to make his home in Clemson.

"I believe the timing is right from the vantage point of where we are with the state of our program,” Phillips said. “I believe we have a good solid foundation that will provide opportunities in the future for our program to move beyond where it is today. I can't say enough about how delighted Trish and I are to be a part of Clemson and this community.”

Barker said Phillips leaves a lasting legacy at the university.

“First of all, I want to say thank you to Terry Don and Trish for all they have done,” he said. “The Phillips Decade – and I think it deserves to be called that – is marked by integrity, dedication and a wise business influence. As a result of that, we are a much stronger university – financially and academically. Thank you for building a fine athletic program.”

Barker then said he has asked Phillips to stay on board until a replacement is found.

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