|Monday, May 13, 2013, 11:35 AM- -|
There has been a lot of change and turnover at Clemson in the last few months. The president and provost are moving on and we already have a new athletic director in place.
Change is hard for some but many welcome new ideas and new energy. I think Clemson is at a crossroads and this new leadership will be a key to our immediate future.
In many ways I am encouraged by Clemson's presence and brand. I had a meeting last week with a television and radio executive that said Clemson is a great brand right now. He said the sports teams look to have a bright future and the next few years could bring big things to Tigertown. I would agree. Specifically,
Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile is building an exciting brand in the football program. This is a nationally ranked program that has big-name flare. Television sets tune in to Clemson to watch Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
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View Full Profile and Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
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View Full Profile run Chad MorrisChad Morris
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In baseball, the program seems to have a great future with an injection of young talent that could have Clemson highly ranked for the foreseeable future. Basketball is a hard sell but the program has a chance to improve in the nation's best conference.
The media exec said that the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson market is growing and industry in the area as well. I know little about tax advantages for industries but he said the upstate of South Carolina is a prime area for companies looking to relocate. He also mentioned Clemson being located right in between the Charlotte and Atlanta markets as a big advantage in the future. Both cities are growing and both have shown growth in Clemson's direction.
After the conversation I was encouraged about what I had learned and felt great about the next few years here at Clemson. But another conversation had me concerned.
Recently I talked to another person in the field and he was concerned about Clemson's vision and its place in the state of South Carolina. He said that the new leaders at Clemson have some relationships to mend within the state.
This person said that his perception was that Clemson used to have a better brand in the state. He said that Clemson used to be the "in" place to go to school with the in-state students. "Clemson used to be, for lack of a better word, the cool place to go," he said. "But South Carolina has spent a bunch of money marketing within the state. Their athletic department has turned the football rivalry around. Their baseball national titles have meant a lot to their fan base. I hate to say it but South Carolina has done a good job and the state is reflecting it. Clemson's name with the state government has taken some hits. The tuition issue within the state has given families a hard time. Check out what summer school costs this summer."
I can see his point. For most of my life Clemson seemed to be the school of choice in the state but I have to give South Carolina credit. But his other point is what really concerned me when he said, "Clemson should look at the state of Virginia in forming its strategy within the state. UVA became an elite academic school and that was great but during that time Virginia Tech became the school of the people of the state of Virginia. UVA has lost the state. Clemson was founded for the common man and the answer to the state's problems of rebuilding. South Carolina was the school of the elite at one point. However, to a lot of people in South Carolina these roles seem to be reversed."
That last point is a concern and one that I hope is addressed. I must admit that I know little about the policies in place from an academic standpoint and my field deals with athletics. However, those seem to be closely related. I hope the leadership can steer the ship towards smooth waters. I don't know a lot about the direction of the board but what little I do know about the chairman of the board, I am encouraged by his leadership.
I think both of the above experts may be right. Clemson is in a promising position at this point. The area is growing and the prizes of Atlanta and Charlotte are valuable. In my field, I know Charlotte and Atlanta have really helped recruiting in football and baseball recently.
On the other hand I do see the second point. In my field, there seems to be a swing in this state towards the Gamecocks. That appears to be the case in recruiting in both football and baseball. I hate the idea of South Carolina being the school of choice in this state and hope that changes soon.
In the end, it will be the leadership that makes the difference. The reason why Clemson was great in the past was the great leadership of people like Dr. R.C. Edwards and Bill McLellan. I trust Wilkins' hand in the university but that is based upon very limited knowledge of the issues he faces. In athletics I am encouraged by Dan Radokovich's vision for leading us to these crossroads. Hopefully these next ten years will be bright times in this great place.
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