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Nov 18, 2022

Dan Radakovich

By: Tim Bourret

Note: The following appears in the Miami football gameday program.

I don’t often write a story about Clemson’s opponent in “The Last Word” article in the gameday program, but this weekend, I am making an exception.

Dan Radakovich came to Tigertown during the 2012-13 academic year and is a key reason Clemson has had its unprecedented success on the gridiron for over a decade. Today, he is a resident in the visiting athletic director’s booth on the south side of the stadium as the Miami (Fla.) director of athletics, a position he began this past summer.

I have written a few “The Last Word” articles about the importance of infrastructure during successful eras of Clemson athletics in all sports.

That history dates to the 1930s, when IPTAY was founded (1934). Five years later, Clemson had a 9-1 record on the gridiron, its first top-15 finish in the AP poll and its first bowl victory over Boston College in the Cotton Bowl.

Clemson opened Memorial Stadium in 1942, and six years later, the Tigers had a perfect 1948 season. It might have come faster had it not been for World War II, an event that drafted Clemson’s junior and senior classes in 1943.

The Tigers joined the ACC in 1953, and three years later, they won the conference title and finished the season in the Orange Bowl. More top-20 seasons followed in 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Jervey Athletic Center opened in 1973, and Clemson returned to the top 20 in 1977 and finished No. 6 in the nation in 1978. The upper deck on the south side of the stadium was added in 1978, and Clemson won the national championship in 1981.

The trend continued under Bobby Robinson and Terry Don Phillips. Robinson made sound decisions that kept the program on strong ground financially for 17 years, and the program won more ACC titles in all sports than during any other similar period in school history.

Robinson’s successful tenure, which had Clemson in the black financially, allowed Phillips to start the west endzone project at Memorial Stadium in 2005. Four years later, Clemson won its first ACC Atlantic Division title in football.

In 2009, the west endzone project was completed, with the entire football operation moving there. Two years later, Clemson won its first ACC title in 20 years.

Phillips’ last project was the Poe Indoor Practice Facility, which opened in 2012. Four years later, Clemson won its first national championship in 35 years.

Radakovich was well aware of this history and had a history of building excellent athletic facilities at his previous stops as a director of athletics. He was always a good listener when it came to working with coaches and figuring out a way to make their ideas work financially.

A main project during his time as Clemson’s director of athletics was Allen N. Reeves Football Complex. I was still the football communications director when it was being constructed, and it was received nationally as among the top state-of-the-art facilities in the country.

The facility opened for signing day in 2017 and has had a positive impact on the Tiger program in all areas ever since. Obviously, that includes recruiting. The 2018 national championship followed, as Clemson became the first program in the modern era to finish a season with a 15-0 record.

A spot in the 2019 national championship game followed, as did a sixth straight College Football Playoff appearance in 2020.

Facility enhancements were made in all sports during Radakovich’s tenure at Clemson. One of the big examples was the soccer program, which won the national title last fall, just a few years after the construction of a new top-of-the-line facility.

Obviously, an athletic director’s job description deals with more than just improving facilities. After evaluating Swinney’s recommendations, he expanded the football staff significantly, which has also had a lot to do with Clemson’s success on the gridiron.

The same goes for student-athlete enrichment and the corresponding academic performance of our student-athletes. He also had the foresight to invest in talented personnel when it came to social media.

Radakovich did one other positive thing for the program. He hired a young and personable leader, Graham Neff, as his chief financial officer and top assistant director of athletics, and he put him in position to one day replace him as director of athletics, making for a seamless transition.

So today, we salute Radakovich for a decade of a job well done for Clemson athletics.