Dan Scott Interview: Terry Don Phillips

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CLEMSON -- Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips was a recent guest on SportsTalk with Dan Scott to discuss the hiring of new Clemson basketball coach Oliver Purnell.

SportsTalk can be heard from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9 in upstate South Carolina.

Listen to the full Terry Don Phillips interview Here: Real Audio - Windows Media

Selected Quotes

Scott: Talk about Purnell and your impressions of him.

Phillips: I think he is a wonderful fit for our university and our department. I think he will be fun to work with. He is highly driven to be successful and has a very good track record of turning around programs and building them into winners. I am very excited about Oliver coming aboard and I look forward to working with him.

Scott: Give us brief overview on how you landed him as the next head coach.

Phillips: Oliver was one of those individuals you knew right up front that you wanted to visit with. Just as other universities would want to visit with Oliver. But because of the contractual nature and the jeopardy it could possibly put Oliver in, you couldn’t really do anything. But we were able to through an intermediary, quite frankly. We finally felt comfortable that we could have a conversion without putting him substantially at risk.

It took a while time to get there. It could have been different from the get go if we had been able to visit with Oliver earlier in the process. Fortunately we were able to finally visit with him down in New Orleans, and we feel very good about the outcome.

Scott: Comment about how important basketball is at Clemson.

Phillips: Basketball is a critical part of the puzzle to have the kind of program that I envision that we can have at Clemson. There is a reason I left Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma State is a good program. I think at its present level it can line up across the board and compete very well. I really had to weigh where we were presently and more importantly where we could go in the future. When I look at the two programs side by side I just believe Clemson has such a significant upside that it was well worth the risk to come here. Clemson is a marvelous place to live and a wonderful university, and I love the people. The reason that I chose to come is the future of Clemson.

Basketball is a huge part of the future. We play year in and year out in the greatest basketball conference in America. If we are a very inconsistent, non performing basketball program it just significantly impacts the total perception on a national level of our program. This is too good of a place, too good of a history to not try to make a change. We are very committed to our basketball program.

People want things to happen over night. And some of the things we are dealing with, it took a while for some of these things to form, and you just don’t come in and change things over night. As much as you would like to do things differently it just takes you time to work through them.

We can’t allow to floundering. It’s got to be a job of destiny and not one as part of the journey. It’s got to be a job such that when we get a great coach here that they stay here, and they feel good about being here because we are doing the right things to help support the program to continually to improve it. We feel very good about Oliver being the first step there. Let me go back to Coach Shyatt. I think we all recognize that he did some very, very good things for this program. I think Clemson and certainly myself, I’m very appreciative for what he stood for and the things he did. We floundered performance wise, but he did some things to really help stabilize our foundation here. So I am very appreciative of him and we need to always recognize that.

Scott: Can you elaborate some on the facilities infrastructure that you were talking about earlier?

Phillips: A huge part of infrastructure is the support in the stands. I understand winning and losing. I know people don’t want to buy tickets to go see you get beat. I understand that, but somehow we have to get the message out that it’s a building process. It’s not going to happen overnight because history shows you that. One of the things is that people need to understand is we need to create as a part of the infrastructure a huge home court advantage. The only way you can do that is get people excited and we are going to do some things to help that excitement. We need our people to support the basketball program and help build this thing together.

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