On Friday, Oct. 2, Clemson Athletics and the Clemson soccer programs will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Historic Riggs Field. On that day, the Tiger men’s team hosts Virginia Tech at 5 p.m., followed by the women’s team vs. Wake Forest at 7:30 p.m.
A BRIEF BACKGROUNDPerhaps one of the first big “stepping stones” in helping make Clemson successful in athletics today was the construction of Riggs Field. Named after one of the most beloved leaders of the early years at Clemson, Riggs Field is one of the oldest continuous used athletics fields on a college campus in the United States.
Riggs Field gave the football team a place to play and practice on its adjunct fields. The baseball field was constructed where the tennis courts are now and the track encircled the football field.
Construction of Riggs Field started in the early summer of 1914. Approximately $10,000 was appropriated for the construction of the facility that covered almost nine acres. Before its completion, the Clemson Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to name the new athletic complex Riggs Field in honor of Clemson’s first football coach and originator of the Clemson Athletic Association, Dr. Walter M. Riggs.
Riggs was the first football coach at Clemson in 1896. He stepped down as head coach in 1897 to devote all of his time to academics, as he was an engineering professor. He also coached the team in 1899 because the athletic association was low on funds. However, in 1900, the search for a new coach must have been serious, as Riggs hired John Heisman to coach the Tigers.
Although no longer the head coach, Clemson athletics and Riggs could not be split. Although not given the title, Riggs also was the equivalent of an athletic director, managing the money and making contracts with other teams. The well-respected Riggs also held many positions over the years in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) an early conference preceding the Southern Conference. Riggs later became president of Clemson on March 7, 1911. He served in this capacity until his death in 1924.
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