Let me begin by saying that I hope that you and your families are safe and healthy and that you are adjusting to the dramatic changes in our nation as we face an unprecedented challenge.
I want to say, “thank you.” Thank you for your support of IPTAY, Clemson Athletics, our student-athletes and our University. And thank you for doing your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for showing kindness and compassion to those in need.
The recent days have challenged all of us in ways that we couldn’t imagine even a few weeks ago. As we adjust to a new normal, it has offered us the chance to reflect on what makes Clemson special – the people.
The leadership from our university administrators, as we have faced this national crisis, has been direct, compassionate and thoughtful.
For our athletic department administrators, staff and coaches, the recent days have been among the most challenging of our careers, with our department engaged in a series of unprecedented actions. The next few months hold many unknowns as we navigate a national emergency, of which college athletics is just a small part, but we will continue to act in the best interests of our student-athletes, coaches and staff.
A little more than a week ago, I stood in Greensboro Coliseum after our Men’s Basketball team’s scheduled game against top-seeded Florida State was canceled. It was a tense few moments, as we discussed the implications of calling the game, and being in that locker room was one of my more difficult moments in recent memory. I was proud of how our student-athletes and coaches stood with their heads held high and dealt with the abrupt end to their season—understanding the reasoning but obviously still disappointed.
In the hours and days that followed, we saw a flurry of announcements from the State of South Carolina, Clemson University, the ACC and the NCAA.
The message was clear – the Covid-19 situation is no longer about winning and losing games. It’s about the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans and families. It’s about educating ourselves and making sure we do what we can to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of this disease.
We took swift action, including calling our six NCAA National Indoor Track Meet competitors back from Albuquerque, our women’s golf team back from Arizona, and making sure our softball and baseball teams didn’t get on their respective buses.
With in-person classes closing, our academic support staff sprung into action and set up a plan to ensure our student-athletes receive the same academic services as they would in the Nieri Center. Our administrators dove into individual cases to make sure our student-athletes’ housing and dining implications and shared with all of our student-athletes information on the transition to online coursework. Our mental health team is continuing to engage. IPTAY and the Ticket Office announced new deadlines, issuing refunds and ramped up communications.
Our student-athletes, who reconvene with online classes today, have received frequent, consistent communication from coaches, administrators, mental health practitioners and academic advisors. In each case, they’ve been extremely responsive, and we’ll continue to regularly educate and monitor.
I was encouraged to learn that the NCAA Council may be considering eligibility relief for those whose seasons and careers were cut short. A temporary ban on in-person recruiting is in place nationally, and I have full confidence in our staff to be able to continue to bring in the highest-character men and women to represent Clemson.
Our staff and coaches will use the next few months to get better. We’ll examine processes, find new communication methods, tackle long-range projects and do what we can to move the department forward, all the while staying in close contact with our student-athletes—and one another.
There remain many operational components on which our staff has been working tirelessly. There are still many unknowns. Our collective priority is to do what we can to respect the severity of the public health crisis. We will begin to look ahead to ensure a safe return to campus for our student-athletes, as well as ensuring they get the support needed when they are able to return to athletic activity. We look forward to the day we can safely welcome everyone back to campus.
In the meantime, we urge the Clemson Family to do all you can to stay safe and adhere to guidelines set forth by the CDC, DHEC and our University leadership. Thank you for your continued support of Clemson.
Dan RadakovichDirector of Athletics