Happy New Year to you and your family. I hope that you’ve had a great holiday season with friends and family. As our football team prepares for the CFP National Championship Game, I’m often reminded that “the best is yet to come,” and I’m as confident now as ever in the direction of the Athletic Department, IPTAY and Clemson University. However, let’s take a moment and look back at 2019 for Clemson athletics.
The Nieri Family Student-Athlete Enrichment Center continued to provide the support, direction and commitment needed for a well-rounded department. I’m constantly reminded of the hard work these professionals put in to provide the best possible development opportunities for our student-athletes. Our student-athletes remained among the best in the nation with a GSR of 91 percent, and an APR of 986. As we look ahead, we continue to listen to our student leadership and allocate department-wide resources to mental health, nutrition, strength and conditioning, diversity and inclusion, and academic performance.
Our student-athletes’ dedication to their lives off the field never ceases to amaze me. We saw 100 student-athletes cross the stage last year, and each one of them carries the lifetime backing of the Clemson Family.
ACC Network coming online was a monumental moment, as our conference further expanded the opportunity to develop exposure for all of our programs. Clemson has been extremely engaged in this process and continues to lead in production and collaboration. It’s also great to see familiar faces like Eric Mac Lain and Kelly Gramlich representing Clemson on-air!
On the field, the football program opened the year with its second national championship in three years on Jan. 7. The 44-16 victory over Alabama in many ways epitomizes the fight, determination and potential of Clemson. Dabo Swinney and the football program continue to excel on and off the field and place a tremendous spotlight on our department. I’m grateful for the commitment our President and Board of Trustees made last April to ensure the program is in good hands for the next ten years. Seeing the program claim the Fiesta Bowl last week was another reminder of the reach of Clemson Family.
I also would like to thank our IPTAY donors, fans and their families for the incredible support of this program and another record-breaking year. It’s not lost on me your engagement in the program, and we’re excited for the next phase of Memorial Stadium enhancements as we drive forward. IPTAY is our lifeblood, and the support it provides our program is truly remarkable.
One of the first calls I received when taking the athletic director position was “could we start a softball program?” A few years later and thanks to the work of many, it has been amazing to see the stadium spring up in Jervey Meadows. It was great to see our student-athletes’ faces as they moved into their space in December. John Rittman and his team are expecting a full house this spring, and we can’t wait for the first pitch in our own stadium on Feb. 12.
Another of the highlights from 2019 was Amanda Butler’s women’s basketball program reaching the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the second round for the first time since 2001. The direction of her program is exciting, and they closed 2019 by ending Notre Dame’s 58-game ACC home winning streak.
Mike Noonan and the men’s soccer program just wrapped up one of the best seasons in school history, and led the nation in scoring. Junior Robbie Robinson was named winner of the MAC Hermann Award, the Heisman Trophy of college soccer. The program was ranked as high as No. 1 during the season, and saw their season come to a close in the NCAA quarterfinal.
Eddie Radwanski and the women’s soccer program made a sixth-straight NCAA appearance this fall as well.
So many of our programs are under outstanding leadership, and I’m fortunate to work with some of the best minds in their respective sports in the nation. As we look to the future of Clemson athletics and all of college sports – issues that include name, image and likeness, mental health awareness, healthy relationships, brand development, and NCAA legislation – we’ll continue to engage our student-athletes and staffs to make sure that Clemson is set for long-term success.
2019 was incredibly special in its own right, but I’m even more excited for 2020 and beyond as we honor our traditions while driving the department forward. I’m grateful for your support, engagement and encouragement of our programs.
Happy New Year!
Dan RadakovichDirector of Athletics