Note: The following appears in the The Citadel gameday football program.
The past six months have been some of the most challenging in my time as an athletic director. I know you have likely faced many obstacles as well, as you have learned to navigate new procedures and create a new normal for you and your family.
As we begin the 2020-21 school year, I have a renewed sense of optimism around our program. We’ve had to make some difficult decisions to help ensure the long-term stability of our department, and our staff remains as committed as ever.
From our Board of Trustees to President Clements and on down the line, we have been unified in advocating for finding a safe way for our students to return to the classroom and fields of competition.
I am so impressed and grateful for how our coaches, staff and student-athletes have responded during the pandemic. Our coaches continue to serve our student-athletes by keeping them safe and within the protocols established by our medical experts, and the student-athletes are engaged in their academic studies, social justice conversations and training for competition.
We know this year is different.
With that as the backdrop, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your continued support of IPTAY and Clemson athletics. And as we continue to find our way through this pandemic, your engagement can’t be overstated.
While we’ve had a lot going on this summer, we’ve been especially busy over the past several months in three main areas:
• Internal health and safety protocols
• Diversity, equity and inclusion
• Game operations
INTERNAL HEALTH & SAFETY PROTOCOLS
Clemson athletics has long valued the physical and mental care and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We have invested in many of the resources over the past several years, and when the pandemic initially became more impactful, we had people in place to begin planning a path forward.
We have consistently sought help internally and externally on our health practices, educated our student-athletes and put thorough procedures in place to ensure we can be as safe as possible. Our COVID-19 testing has been aggressive from the outset, and we continue to be transparent in our process. Parents entrust us with their children while they’re at Clemson, and it’s not a responsibility we take lightly.
And, we continue to advocate and prioritize the mental health needs of our student-athletes. This holistic approach has allowed us to welcome our student-athletes back and provide as safe an environment as possible.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
We have had the opportunity to reflect on many areas of our society and how we can continue to be a leader in this space. I am proud of the work of our student-athletes in making their voices heard, and I am proud to stand beside them. From social media to the community demonstration on Bowman Field, we have had a tremendous amount of engagement, and we’re eager to find new ways to affect real change.
We have continued our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our departmental planning. We’ve outlined several new initiatives over the next 6-12 months to help make everyone feel more welcome and to listen to those who need to be heard. You can learn more about what we’ve been up to on page 106.
Our staff has spent an incredible amount of time in the logistics of how to safely and fairly put on intercollegiate competition. Our typical operations are nuanced, and it’s very important to us to have a tremendous gameday experience, while also recognizing we needed to rebuild from the ground up.
You’ll see many changes in many areas, and we ask that you continue to abide by the updated protocols. We are committed to providing a safe gameday environment, which requires each of us to take personal responsibility and respect our fellow Clemson Family.
Just as we have during the past six months, we’ll continue to learn a lot over the next six months. I am proud to be at Clemson and lead such a dedicated program.
Thank you again for your support, and enjoy the game!
Director of Athletics