CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson Athletics announced today that it has hired Pat Richards as Director of Football Athletic Training.
Richards’ hiring was the result of Clemson’s national search to find a premier addition to its Sports Medicine team. Members of Clemson’s administration, including Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student Services and Performance Natalie Honnen and Clemson team physicians Dr. Len Reeves, Dr. Steve Martin and Dr. Tenley Murphy helped guide search efforts in conjunction with Head Coach Dabo Swinney and Chief of Football Administration Woody McCorvey. Richards’ addition reinforces Clemson Sports Medicine’s stated commitment to providing up-to-date medical care to student-athletes and advocation of holistic lifestyle changes to promote athletic leadership.
“We are incredibly proud to welcome Pat to Clemson,” Honnen said. “His hiring is a testament to the collaboration of so many people. We are appreciative of the valuable input from our team physicians and other experts in the athletic training and medical communities, as well as the benchmarking and research done by Coach Swinney and Woody McCorvey. We are thrilled to add someone of Pat’s caliber to Clemson Sports Medicine.”
Richards comes to Clemson after having most recently served as Associate Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Houston, working as the head trainer for the Cougars’ 12-2 season and No. 17 final national ranking last year. His professional experience began as an athletic training intern with the Dallas Cowboys during the 2012 NFL season. In the years to follow, he served as a graduate assistant at Utah (2013-14), as an athletic training intern at Louisville (2015), as an associate athletic trainer at Mississippi State (2016-18) and as the associate director of sports medicine at Louisiana (2019-20) prior to his latest role at Houston.
“I’m really excited about the hire of Pat Richards,” said Swinney, whose full comments are included below. “As we really honed in and narrowed down our search, Pat truly won the job. Pat is incredibly highly recommended both by the best of the best in the college ranks and also the best of the best in the pros. He’s very well-respected, very smart. He’s a young, dynamic leader. He’s young but he has a ton of experience and a ton of connections both in the medical world and in the modern era of athletic training.”
A native of Dallas, Texas, Richards earned his bachelor’s degree in athletic training from TCU in 2013 before earning a master’s degree in exercise and sport science from the University of Utah in 2015.
“I am both excited and honored to join Clemson Football,” Richards said. “I appreciate the faith that [Director of Athletics] Graham Neff, Dabo Swinney, the entire Clemson Sports Medicine team and everyone in the Clemson Family has shown in me, and it is my privilege to serve Clemson student-athletes. I am also thankful for the job Danny Poole has done here for nearly 40 years, and I can’t wait to build upon the legacy of this role and continue to position Clemson as a leader in athletic training and student-athlete health and wellness.”
Richards becomes only the fourth person to formally serve as Clemson Football’s head athletic trainer since 1948. Clemson Athletic Hall of Famer Herman McGee held the role from 1948-57 amidst his 46 total years of service at Clemson that included roles overseeing athletic grounds and equipment. Though there was no designated head trainer in 1958, legendary long-time Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves trainer Dave Pursley temporarily assisted in that capacity alongside McGee during Clemson’s 1958 ACC title season while also assisting MLB farm clubs. Fred Hoover, a Clemson Athletic Hall of Famer and 2002 South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, led football training efforts as head athletic trainer from 1959-98.
Most recently, Danny Poole served as Clemson’s Director of Sports Medicine across the 1999-2021 football seasons as part of his roughly 40 years at Clemson. In February, Swinney announced that Poole would be stepping away from his day-to-day position as athletic trainer and transitioning into a new role within Clemson Football and Clemson Athletics. Last month, the South Carolina House of Representatives introduced and adopted a resolution to recognize and honor Poole for his service to Clemson student-athletes.
FULL COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY:“I’m really excited about the hire of Pat Richards. [Chief of Football Administration] Woody McCorvey and I really did a lot of research and a lot of background to find the best person to join Clemson Football. We had a very small pool of candidates that checked all the boxes we were looking for after we reached out to the best of the best both at the college level and at the pro levels. As we really honed in and narrowed down our search, Pat truly won the job.
“Pat is incredibly highly recommended both by the best of the best in the college ranks and also the best of the best in the pros. He’s very well-respected, very smart. He’s a young, dynamic leader. He’s young but he has a ton of experience and a ton of connections both in the medical world and in the modern era of athletic training. I’m really excited about his addition and welcoming him and his wife, Stephanie. I’m glad he was able to have a little bit of time to be a fly on the wall and get to know our players a little bit before officially taking over after the Spring Game.
“This is a great transition for us. And, again, I’m thankful for Danny Poole and his 39 years here at Clemson — just amazing when you think about that. I’m glad that Danny will be staying around and transitioning to an administrative role, and I’m super excited to have Pat joining us here at Clemson.”
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