CLEMSON - When college basketball season rolls back around next fall, a new women's coach will be roaming the Clemson bench area for the first time in almost two decades.
Jim Davis, who coached the Lady Tigers to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 18 seasons, was asked to step down late last week as Clemson's coach and accept a position in the athletic administration by Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips. Davis ultimately agreed to the change, and will become an assistant athletic director under Phillips.
Davis is on vacation and currently unavailable for comment.
Reached over the weekend, Davis said he was appreciative of the time he has spent at Clemson and was looking forward to his new challenge.
"Clemson has been awfully good to me for 18 years," he said. "I'm a Clemson guy. I have a lot of respect for Terry Don, and I'm going to work hard to do a good job for him."
Davis won 355 games and two ACC championships in his time at Clemson.
However the last three years have been difficult. Two years ago Davis suffered his first losing season as Clemson's head coach when his team finished 14-15. They bounced back in 2003-04 to finish 17-12 and make the Women's NIT despite a losing record inside the ACC.
Then this past season, with a roster loaded with newcomers (five freshmen, two junior college transfers), Davis suffered through the worst season of his career at 8-20.
Having been told the year before by Phillips that improvement was needed, the idea of a change didn't catch Davis by surprise. But he had hoped to come back for a 19th season and attempt to turn things around.
Instead, he'll forge a new career in administration while the search for his replacement begins in earnest.
Phillips was quoted over the weekend as saying he didn't care whether the new coach was male or female, and that a national search would be held to find Davis' successor.
However there seems to be a general feeling by those close to the program that the new coach would almost have to be female. Clemson currently has three female head coaches, and some insiders say the pressure to add another woman to the staff will be intense.
If that proves to be true, it would close the door on such possible candidates as Cary Green, a former Davis assistant who has gone on to great success coaching Liberty University's women's team, or perhaps a young, up-and-coming head coach right here in Clemson's back yard such as Anderson College's Kevin Pederson.
Pederson, in his third year at the Division II school, posted a 33-3 record this season and led his team to the Sweet 16.
Phillips has not given a timetable for the naming of a new coach.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.