The “Best” in “Best is the Standard” got better in early 2023, as Clemson opened the Allen N. Reeves Clemson Athletics Branding Institute to provide Clemson student-athletes best-in-class facilities and resources for branding, marketing, sponsorship, content creation and more.
Attached to the west end of the Poe Indoor Facility, the new 12,000-square-foot, two-story facility now houses two photo and video studios, an audio studio, editing space, conference room and the office of Name, Image and Likeness Coordinator C.D. Davies, all intended to provide on-site resources for student-athletes choosing to pursue sponsorship opportunities and content generation. The facility is also home to the Smart Family Media Center.
From its ideation, “The CAB,” as Head Coach Dabo Swinney nicknamed it, has been intended as a destination for student-athletes seeking branding guidance and resources to help elevate themselves among a crowded marketplace.
“We’re going to call it The CAB because what does a cab do? It gives you a lift to your destination,” Swinney said. “But guess what, you’ve gotta pay the fare. We can’t do it for you. You’ve got to do the work. I’m really excited about it because it’s a living, breathing space where our guys know they can go for expertise.
“If you’re injured, you go to the training room. If you want to get stronger, you go to the weight room. This was an opportunity for our guys to know that if they want help with branding and sponsorship and NIL and tax education and finances and all of these very real-world issues, you go to The CAB where we have a dedicated space with people ready to help them.”
According to Davies, that real-world experience is indispensable and part of Clemson’s educational mission.
“This is a great education for them,” Davies said of the opportunity for student-athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness. “They’re getting an education that a lot of business schools don’t get to give young people as far as actually being in the midst of doing these deals and negotiating for themselves, and we’re giving them all the tools we can to make sure our players are in control of these transactions.”
At the top of the stairs to the second floor of the new facility is a conference room overlooking Clemson’s indoor practice field, providing a location for potential sponsors and collectives like TigerImpact and Dear Old Clemson to meet with Clemson student-athletes.
Down the walkway overlooking the practice field sit three studio spaces for content creation. The first includes a 625-square-foot infinity wall plus permanently installed customizable lighting to provide Clemson content creators and others quick, turnkey options for professional-grade studio space. It also includes a feature wall adorned with a neon-backlit Clemson logo. The second studio is a blank canvas to provide greater flexibility for creation of custom photo and video sets. The third is a soundproof studio complete with top-of-the-line RØDECaster equipment for the production of audio content such as podcasts.
The ground level is home to the Smart Family Media Center, which will serve as a central hub for Clemson’s award-winning media operations. The 1,200-square-foot center includes wired workspace for 40 media members to work comfortably and efficiently while interviewing Clemson personnel seated in front of the stage’s 163-inch video branding wall, which can be customized for each student-athlete.
The creation of the Smart Family Media Center is the latest illustration of Clemson’s larger commitment to serving local and national media and helping them tell the stories of Clemson’s student-athletes. Clemson’s Athletic Communications staff has won nine Super 11 awards, presented annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the Football Bowl Subdivision’s most helpful sports information departments, tied for the most in the award’s history. Clemson’s coaches’ and student-athletes’ helpfulness and authenticity with the media resulted in Clemson becoming the first program ever to earn the honor in seven consecutive years, doing so from 2015-21.
At the entry point to the top level is the office for Davies, whose addition in the summer of 2022 gave Clemson’s student-athletes a direct line to a resource with more than 30 years of executive leadership in the financial services sector.
“I guarantee you there is no one in the country that has someone like C.D. Davies as their NIL Coordinator,” Swinney said. “He is overkill qualified, but it is a blessing for us at Clemson and a blessing for our team. He’s been a CEO at major companies and corporations all throughout his career.
“This is all elementary to him compared to the world he comes from, but to our players, he is a major asset when it comes to finances, taxes, contracts, LLCs — anything that could come up in this space — for them to be able to have a good resource and sounding board and guidance and again fulfill what we’re trying to do, which is protect our players, train our players and truly educate them so they can maximize and navigate this NIL space.”
In addition to his role with Clemson, Davies serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Figure Acquisition Corporation. His impressive business background also includes successful tenures as the CEO of CitiMortgage and Head of Citi Global Mortgage; as CEO of LendingTree, Wachovia Mortgage, and QBE First; as well as the head of Capital One Home Loans.
Building construction and renovations for The CAB also included the creation of updated spaces for pro scouts and for returning Clemson football players. The Pro Scout Room has nine workstations for NFL scouts to watch tape, write reports and meet with Clemson personnel. A few yards away is Clemson’s NFL locker room, a dedicated space for former NFL players to dress and shower upon their returns to Clemson to train in the offseason.