|Q&A with Athletic Director Dan Radakovich - Part 3|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Monday, December 10, 2012 10:34 AM||
CLEMSON – This is part three of our brief conversation with new athletic director Dan Radakovich. In this installment, he talks about the health of the overall program, and what it will take to get back to being competitive with South Carolina.
TN: How would you describe the overall health of Clemson athletics, as you see them coming in?
DR: “It’s very healthy. Certainly our football program with the ten wins which is a mark that hasn’t been hit often at Clemson. Hitting that mark in back-to-back years is a great foundation for Dabo [Swinney] and his staff to continue to have success. I think that Brad [Brownell] in basketball has a very young team and he has done a really good job. But we need to able to support our basketball program. And then a number of our Olympic sports have always been gems – like golf and baseball. Our soccer programs have been really good over time and we need to work to get them back to their levels. The tennis programs have always been good, especially women. And then volleyball. And rowing is interesting to me – I have never been involved in rowing and I am interested to watch our young women compete in that sport. Overall, I think it is a very healthy program. As I come in, one of my challenges is to make sure that our coaches and our student-athletes understand that it’s important to do really three things. Number one is that you have to follow the rules. There is no question about that. Our coaches make a contract with our student-athletes that we have to graduate those players. We have to graduate the young people that come here to get an education at Clemson University. Number two, you have to be successful. As a coach and as a department, we are all held accountable for success. And success is defined differently – when you are competing it is wins and losses. When you are an administrator it is are you effective and efficient with the resources that your supporters give you. And are you making sure that the investors in your program – the people who buy the season tickets and the people who donate to IPTAY – that they are getting a good experience for that investment. One of the things that you have to make sure you are able to do is to keep that great base that is here. That base that creates that atmosphere on a football Saturday that is second to none. How do you continue to have that happen? Those are challenges and things that we will continue to work on each and every day here.”
TN: Is part of your job early on taking a look at each program and setting expectations for each sport?
DR: “I think working with the sports supervisors that are associated with each sport, that kind of evaluation has to happen. But maybe one of the most overblown things is that an AD comes in and people think he has to hire his own people, from a coaching standpoint. If you were the new AD at Alabama, would you have to hire your own football coach? No. I have been in the business and I have hired coaches, changed coaches, fired coaches, and sometimes that is necessary and sometimes you have to do that. But I don’t walk into Clemson feeling like I have to create this new enterprise. There are phenomenal people here that are doing great work. My job is to help them get better. So, with that said, I don’t come in here with all of those preconceived notions.”
TN: Is it too early to talk about extending Swinney’s contract?
DR: “I think those things happen as a matter of course. When those things occur, we will handle them.”
TN: People want to know, how can Clemson get back to being competitive with South Carolina and get back to beating them again? As an athletic director, is there anything you can do to help that process?
DR: “I certainly understand that. When you talk about success, one of the gauges of success is understanding that that game and that rivalry is important. You have to be able to build around the idea that if you are going to have overall success in the program, that one of the benchmarks is beating South Carolina. I don’t know that there is anything I can do specifically – I haven’t caught a touchdown pass in years and I haven’t made a free throw in even longer. I don’t know that there is anything that I can specifically do except to motivate and encourage the coaches. And I can tell you that they need none of that when it comes to beating the University of South Carolina. They understand how important it is to our investors and the stakeholders in our programs. And our student-athletes understand that. I have had conversations with them that would certainly lead me to believe without question how important it is. They are frustrated that they haven’t been able to have more success. This is a great senior class in football that has done a lot of great things, and that is one of the things they haven’t been able to accomplish and I know that bothers them. There were some crushed individuals in the locker room. And I think that is one of the things that fans need to understand; I know that it is important for them to win those games, but they need to realize that it is also important for our coaches and student athletes. They feel the hurt as well.”
TN: I get a lot of emails from people asking when or if Clemson will get a wrestling or softball program. Do you see that happening?
DR: “I am not sure about the sport additions …much evaluation must occur before a decision like that is made.”
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