Dan Scott Interview: Terry Don Phillips
Terry Don Phillips came to Clemson from Oklahoma State in 2002.
Part One of Dan Scott's recent interview with Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips.
DAN: Talk about the progress on the West End Zone Project
TDP: We are still going to chase down the path of looking at a possible public/private joint venture. We think there continues to be strong feasibility there. The state engineer is being very cautious because this will be the first time something like this has ever happened. I understand his caution and his prudence. I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. We are going to do everything he asks us to do to see whether or not it is feasible. At same time, we can’t continue to be on hold with regard to the project. It just means too much to our football program and it means too much to our total sports program. We are going to proceed forward and continue to work with the state to determine if we can get this private venture put together. If we can, that would be great because it would be a great boon to what we are trying to do. But if we can’t, then we don’t want to continue to get further behind with our facilities issues.
DAN: How any seats will it have initially?
TDP: It will have at least 1000 seats. We've sold right at 1000 seats already. We are on track. We can build the first phase in one of two ways. We can just go ahead and build it with the 1000 seats we already presold. If we go at just 1000, we of course develop the structure to accept the additional 1000 seats once those are sold. It just depends on how our sales continue if we build 1000 or 2000 initially.
DAN: What are the plans for the project going forward?
TDP: Starting next week we are working with the architects to develop final construction documents so we can go out to bid as soon as possible. We will also be finalizing our capital campaign for the football facility as far as raising money for that and of course that is where we get into this private venture. The reason the private venture is really important is that if we are able to put it together, we could get everything done in one fell swoop.
If that does not work, we've got to do a good job with our capital campaign and raise money for the football facility. Now the first phase, what that does is puts the club seats in there and develops the footprint for the football facility as well as the “One Clemson” center, which is the museum. So that is a huge step, plus it will make an outstanding stadium even more outstanding.
DAN: How is the Athletic Department financially?
TDP: We are stable. We don’t have our nose below the water line. We’ve never had our nose below the water line, but we know where the water line is which is probably the most uncomfortable part of it. We are stable financially. Now the one thing we are doing is to move forward even though we are going to get the West End Zone done, we’re going downstairs right now as we speak, redoing the locker rooms for the football program as well as refurbishing the locker rooms for other sports programs. But the real major thing we are doing is the football locker rooms which were sorely outdated and need to be fixed up. Then we will be getting into the weight room and doing some rework there as well. Even as we are working on the West End Zone, we are putting our kids in a good environment, and something we can recruit to for the next two, three or four years because it is going to take a while to get in there. You just don’t decide you are going to build a facility and then the next day you break ground.
DAN: It sounds like you and Tommy Bowden are on the same page with the facilities.
TDP: Before I even met Tommy (Bowden), I didn’t know what the conversation was between Tommy and the administration. But when I came over and visited Clemson, I told the people that I visited with, Clemson University is way behind in their facility issues. Certainly they were way behind Oklahoma State in facilities because we had just gone through a massive construction and they are still going though a massive construction phase over there. I say that based on (the fact) we visited a lot of other universities when we were building the facilities at Oklahoma State and it was very obvious that we are very much behind on these off the field issues and again I never had a conversation with Tommy. I didn’t need to because it was very obvious on its face what we needed to do.
DAN: Talk about the foundation that was left here for you.
TDP: I have a great respect for Bobby Robinson and the foundation he left here. It wasn’t as financially strong as I initially believed, but those things happen, but I for sure don’t ever want to impugn anything that Bobby did because I have tremendous respect for him. Unlike a lot of programs that run deficits, Bobby left a program that was not running a deficit. They did stack some construction projects one on the top of each other, that because of the debt service issues, decreases your margin of error significantly. So we have to be very careful on how we spend. We have got to be reasonable and prudent, but the bottom line is even with these projects we are doing in the lower level of Jervey with regard to our locker rooms and weight room, those things we have got to do. We don’t have a choice whether we want to do those or not, particularly in this new conference. Now I wasn’t aware there was any thought of expansion prior to coming. So that’s added a new element. I guess I had been on the job about a month or six weeks, and I found out about the expansion. Now I agree with the expansion, but that has added a new element….Certainly that is a whole new ballgame.