AD Radakovich leaves for Clemson

Dan Radakovich’s six-year tenure as Tech’s Athletic Director (AD) has come to an abrupt end.

As first reported by Bart Wright of the Greendale News, Radakovich was hired as the new AD at Clemson University on Monday, Oct. 29. He submitted his resignation from Tech’s AD position and left Tech for Clemson late that morning, and Clemson officially announced the hire during a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Senior Associate Athletic Director Paul Griffin will serve as Tech’s acting AD until a national search for a new candidate is completed. Radakovich will remain at Tech to fulfill administrative duties until Nov. 15 and will begin his tenure at Clemson some two weeks after that.

“We set the bar very high. We wanted an individual who knew how to lead, how to win, how to generate revenue and how to communicate a vision for Clemson’s future that would rally our students, faculty, coaches, staff and fans,” said Clemson President James F. Barker during Radakovich’s introductory press conference on Monday. “We believe that we have found just that individual [in Radakovich].”

Clemson was set to begin a search for a new AD after Terry Don Phillips, Clemson AD since 2002, announced his retirement in early August. It was not long before the school received a call from Radakovich expressing interest for the job.

“When I heard [Phillips] was retiring, I went home and told [my wife] Marcie that there could be an incredible opportunity a couple hours up the road,” Radakovich said. “It was my initiative to make the first call. I told Terry I would like an opportunity to sit and talk with the decision-makers for this job.”

Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that he first learned of Radakovich’s candidacy for the Clemson AD post when Barker contacted him after the Tech-Clemson football game on Oct. 6, and Radakovich confirmed his impending departure to Peterson one day before he took up the Clemson job.

During his introductory press conference, Radakovich talked about being a Clemson fan while growing up in distant Pennsylvania and through the years afterward.

“Over the course of years, my admiration for Clemson grew—quietly of course—[while I was] working in Columbia, Baton Rouge and Atlanta. But here I am now, and I couldn’t be prouder,” Radakovich said, referring to his time in the athletic departments at South Carolina, LSU and Tech.

Radakovich leaves Tech after a six-and-a-half year tenure that saw considerable success on the field. Tech’s athletic teams won 14 ACC Championships and nine regular season titles over that span and recorded 51 total postseason appearances. In 2007, the women’s tennis team captured the national title.

During his tenure, Radakovich hired six of Tech’s current head coaches. Included in those six are football coach Paul Johnson, hired in Dec. 2007, and men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory, hired in March 2011. He also brought in softball coach Sharon Perkins, swimming and diving coach Courtney Hart, volleyball coach Tonya Johnson and women’s tennis coach Rodney Harmon.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of Radakovich’s term as AD was not Tech’s performance on the field, but rather his decision to push through a number of major construction projects involving athletic facilities. Mewborn Field, the John and Mary Brock Indoor Practice facility and the Zelnak Center were built during his tenure; he also broke ground on the Ken Byers Tennis Complex earlier this year and led the renovation of Alexander Memorial Coliseum into McCamish Pavilion, which will host its first game on Friday, Nov. 9.

The combination of these projects increased the athletic department’s debt from $126 million to $226 million since Radakovich was hired in 2006, but low interest rates for the loans for the construction projects should limit the debt burden on Tech over the next few years.

The darkest mark on Radakovich’s Tech career remains the NCAA investigation that uncovered major violations and negated Tech’s 2009 ACC football title.

The main charge, according to the NCAA, was a lack of cooperation on Tech’s part after Radakovich violated instructions to not inform Paul Johnson of an impending interview with a former football player.

Both Radakovich and Barker said the violations had been a major point of discussion during the interview process.

“It was a life-altering experience for me,” Radakovich said. “There were mistakes made that I can guarantee will not happen again. There were lessons learned…I bring to the table having been through the trenches there and never wanting to go there again.”

In discussing expectations for his new job at Clemson, Radakovich drew closer parallels to his prior job at LSU than his time at Tech, citing the widespread passion among LSU supporters for the entire athletic program. He also indicated that he has drawn lessons from every stop in his career.