Feb. 13, 2007
I’m writing with some observations about the admissions issue.
President Barker has been very clear in his mandate that the admissions process must maintain a “level field” for our recruiting while maintaining academic integrity. At the National IPTAY meeting last week in Columbia, President Barker stated that University administrative processes are always subject to review for evaluation and improvement. In that regard, athletics looks forward to participating in a review. We appreciate this opportunity because there are clearly different perspectives about some aspects of the admissions process. However, having such differences is nothing new at colleges and universities.
Having said that – the following are some personal reactions to emails, letters, phone calls, etc. that have been received.
There is no university conspiracy to devalue the football program in favor of an academic ranking. To suggest so is simply not true. If I believed that, I would not remain at Clemson. College athletics operates in an environment where winning and academics do and will continue to coexist. There are numerous examples of this being successfully done. One only has to look at this year’s final football rankings to see that outstanding programs are from top public universities. The college football landscape is changing. Not only the competition with the addition of teams to the ACC such as Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech, but also NCAA academic requirements. For example, the new NCAA Academic Progress Rates (APR) and Graduation Success Rates (GSR’s) mandate successful academic progress and graduation performance. Academics at Clemson are getting more rigorous as the academic quality of the university improves and more top students apply. Coach Bowden is measured by many things, but his ultimate goal is championship performance with integrity. I do expect him and his coaches to advocate strongly and aggressively for those recruits he thinks can help the program win championships. The coaches work extremely hard at recruiting within the NCAA rules. The last three years, including this year, we’ve seen very good results in the quality of our recruits. The purpose of the Athletic Admissions Review Committee (AARC) is to be an advocate and provide oversight for academics. In effect, with access to sensitive personal information from several sources, they help determine if a prospective athlete has a reasonable chance of being successful in the classroom and graduating. The AARC was established prior to my arrival in 2002 as a result of the NCAA Certification Review in 2001. Through its work, they are able to identify most athletes who would not be able to qualify under minimum NCAA guidelines. However, the majority of student-athletes are accepted via the normal university admissions process, not the AARC. I appreciate and greatly respect the leadership of President Barker. Contrary to what has been said or written, President Barker strongly supports athletics in a very significant fashion. Provost Dori Helms is a fair minded and outstanding Provost. Dori has been very good to work with on those occasions that I must appeal denials of admissions from the AARC. Dr. Larry LaForge is an excellent faculty representative. While Larry is new to the position, he is very level headed and thoughtful. And, even though there are some differences, I know the AARC members are very conscientious professionals who work hard to do their job as they are currently charged. In several situations, they have been unfairly criticized for their work. In one case this year, had the AARC had more timely information from the Athletic Department, the withdrawal of a scholarship offer at the last minute would not have occurred. This is our fault and will be corrected. At the end of the day we must ensure we have a process that fairly addresses both a “level field” and academic integrity. Otherwise, we will not fulfill the promise we make to all our athletes – a chance to be successful in athletics and in life.
I welcome the opportunity for the review and working with Provost Helms, the AARC, the coaches and staff to evaluate our processes and improve as needed to ensure that our coaches have a level playing field in recruiting while maintaining academic integrity. These two goals are not mutually exclusive.
We all understand what is at stake, both athletically and academically.
In Solid Orange,
Terry Don Phillips
July 28, 2021