Phillips Takes Helm of Clemson Athletics


by - Correspondent -
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Phillips was one of more than 60 candidates to replace Robinson.

CLEMSON - Terry Don Phillips introduced himself to the Clemson public Tuesday with a straightforward, plainspoken manner and a wide range of emotions.


His job now is to win over that public and, simultaneously, carry out President James Barker's vision of excellence for the school's athletic department.


Phillips, athletic director at Oklahoma State since 1994, officially was named to the same position at Clemson Tuesday afternoon. The announcement by Barker culminated a long, secretive search to find outgoing AD Bobby Robinson's replacement.


Robinson announced Feb. 12 his intention of retiring at the end of this month.


"I know this right now: I'm a good fit for Clemson," Phillips said during the hour-long press conference. "I have no reservations about my fit for this university. There are those out there with reservations (about me), I'm sure. It's my job to get out there among them and ease those reservations."


He appeared to get off to a good start by revealing both a sense of humor and the ability to show a human side.


As he was presented an orange jacket by Barker at the beginning of the press conference, Phillips quipped that he felt he was "at the Masters." Later, he joked that the media was "getting a look at my organizational skills. I'm winging it, because I just realized I left my notes in my car."


He also struggled to keep his composure when discussing the aftermath of the Oklahoma State plane crash that killed several individuals affiliated with the university, including some players. From the tragedy came a task force study on how college athletic programs travel, the findings of which Phillips plans to institute at Clemson.


 Terry Don Phillips and his wife Tricia.


After stopping several times to choke back tears, Phillips apologized and said that the crash "is something that will be with me for the rest of my life."


Phillips, 54, oversaw 10 individual national champions and 13 Big 12 Conference championships, fifth highest in the league during his tenure.


Barker's well-publicized goals for Clemson's sports programs include another football national championship, two national titles in Olympic sports and two appearances in the Final Four for men's basketball. Barker also expects Clemson to become one of the top 20 public universities in the country.


Such lofty goals failed to frighten Phillips.


"Those kind of goals and expectations create a sense of urgency," he said. "I like the vision (Barker has) for this university."


Phillips' more immediate tasks will include familiarizing himself with the litany of construction projects, both ongoing and upcoming, concerning Clemson's athletic facilities.


It is a subject with which he has a recent history - Oklahoma State just completed almost $65 million with of facilities improvements, including:


- An athletics center that includes academic facilities, lounges, offices and Heritage Hall;


- A reconstructed arena that more than doubled seating capacity;


- An equestrian center, softball field and stadium, women's soccer complex, baseball/softball indoor hitting facility, and a golf training and club facility.


With up to $50 million worth of renovation work set to begin on Death Valley in 2002-2003, Phillips is walking headlong into a similar situation at Clemson.


"I need to sit with Bobby and better understand the timeline of these projects and find out where we are," said Phillips. "I've got to educate myself on these things."


Later, when commenting on the larger athletic budget he'll deal with at Clemson than at Oklahoma State, Phillips' quick wit came through again.


"I'm much smarter with money than without it," he joked.


Phillips was one of more than 60 candidates to replace Robinson. Barker said the university sought out Phillips, rather than Phillips applying for the job.


"When we put together the list of the very best athletic directors in the country, he was on it," said Barker.


Contract details have not been finalized as of yet, Barker said during the press conference. Phillips and the school currently are operating under a letter of agreement.


Phillips, a native of Longview, Texas, earned his bachelor's degree in 1970 from the University of Arkansas, where he lettered in football for three years and was honorable mention Academic All Conference. During that time, Arkansas played in the Sugar Bowl twice and participated in the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game that produced the national champion.


Phillips earned his master's and doctor of education degrees from Virginia Tech, where he served as an assistant football coach from 1971-1978. His dissertation was on Title IX issues. He earned a J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1996 and is a member of the Arkansas Bar, the American Bar Association, and the Sports
Lawyers Association.


At OSU, Phillips led a team of coaches, staff and student-athletes whose accomplishments include raising approximately $20 million in private gifts, improvement in student-athlete retention rates with 53 Academic All Americans, 13 conference championships, and almost 40 post-season appearances, including two national championships in golf, a Final Four appearance, and two World Series trips.


Phillips is also active in the NCAA, currently serving as chair-elect of the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee and a member of the Olympic Sports Liaisons Committee, on which he serves as liaison for baseball and wrestling.


Barker said a list of finalists for the position will be released after he has personally spoken with those who did not get the job.


Video of President Barker putting the orange jacket on Terry Don Phillips - MPG


Quotes on Terry Don Phillips


Tommy Bowden

Clemson Football Coach


"Terry Don Phillips is an outstanding hire for Clemson. He
has experience in all phases of athletics, including coaching. As a
coach, I feel it is important to have an athletic director who has
been in the coaching profession.


"But, his resume also includes experience as a fund-raiser,
student-athlete enrichment, work with Olympic Sports committees, and
the NCAA. What he has done as far as facilities at Oklahoma State
is very impressive and that is obviously an important aspect of his
job at Clemson.


"Clemson has hired one of the top athletic directors in the nation."



Larry Shyatt

Clemson Head Men's Basketball Coach

"Obviously, we hit a home run with the hiring of Terry Don Phillips.
It appears that President Barker, Neil Cameron and Cecil Huey have
brought in someone who possesses every quality that earmarks success.
We have a proven winner to follow."



Jim Davis

Clemson Women's Basketball Head Coach

"I have all the confidence in President Barker, Cecil Huey and Neil
Cameron that they have hired the best man for the job. I look
forward to working with Terry Don Phillips and welcome him to the
Clemson family."



Ron West

Assistant Football Coach Worked under Terry Don Phillips at Louisiana Lafayette

"It is very exciting to have Terry Don Phillips come to Clemson. He
has done an excellent job everywhere he has been. I know first hand
that he will do a great job for Clemson University.



ACC COMMISIONER JOHN SWOFFORD

"President Barker and Clemson have made a tremendous hire. Terry Don Phillips is a proven commodity at the major college level. He should
bean excellent addition to the Atlantic Coast Conference and we look
forward to working with him."


George Bennett

Clemson Executive Director of IPTAY

"IPTAY will be very pleased to have Terry Don Phillips as the
Athletic director at Clemson.


I met him when I was at Vanderbilt and he was the fund raiser
at Missouri. He invited me to Columbia (Missouri) to meet with their
organization and share with them my fundraising experiences. I spent
two days with his staff and volunteers and I was impressed with him
as a person and his leadership
qualities.

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