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Jul 03, 2024

Graham Neff Letter to the Clemson Family

Clemson Family,

I hope your summer is going well. What a time to be a Clemson Tiger!

As we close the book on the 2023-24 athletics year, I want to reach out to thank you for another record-setting year of your support of Clemson Athletics. This past season was historic in many ways but headlined by the record number of fans in our venues.

Quite simply – Thank you.

Home attendance grew by more than 20% year-over-year across all sports, resulting in a record number of tickets sold and – incredibly – 1,060,216 people passing through the gates at our 201 home athletic events. Clemson ended the season ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance in six sports: Lacrosse (3), Men’s Soccer (3), Softball (7), Gymnastics (8), Baseball (11), Football (14).

To highlight what you helped achieve on the field:

  • After winning four ACC Championships for the first time in 25 years during 2022-23, our programs again raised the bar, advancing to NCAA Elite Eights or better in four sports for the first time since 1979-80 – Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer, Men’s Basketball and Women’s Golf.
  • Our Soccer programs recorded truly historic seasons, with the Men’s program claiming its second National Championship in three years and our Women’s program advancing to the College Cup for the first time ever. And it’s not over yet for them – National Player of the Year Ousmane Sylla is up for an ESPY as Best Male College Athlete [don’t forget to vote] and Hal Hershfelt was selected as an alternate for the US Women’s National Team at the Olympics.
  • Clemson made NCAA Postseason Appearances in Men’s Basketball (NCAA Quarterfinals), Softball, Baseball (Super Regional), Men’s Soccer (National Champions), Women’s Soccer (NCAA Semifinals), Men’s Golf (Regional Champions), Women’s Golf (NCAA Quarterfinals), Gymnastics (NCAA Regionals), Men’s & Women’s Indoor Track, Men’s & Women’s Outdoor Track and Women’s Cross Country (Gladys Chepngetich – 24th overall)
  • Men’s Basketball reached its second Elite Eight in program history, upending New Mexico, Baylor and Arizona in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Football went 9-4, including a win over South Carolina and a Gator Bowl victory over Kentucky. Clemson has won at least one postseason game (conference championship, bowl game and/or national championship game) in 13 consecutive seasons, extending the longest streak on record in major college football history.
  • Clemson was one of two schools in the nation to win a Football bowl game, advance to the Elite Eight in Men’s Basketball, and win a Regional in Baseball.
  • Gymnastics finished second in the ACC and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in its inaugural season. Amy Smith was named ACC Coach of the Year and Lilly Lippeatt was named ACC Newcomer of the Year.
  • Won the Palmetto Series against South Carolina with wins in Men’s Soccer, Football, Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Women’s Cross Country, Men’s Golf, and claimed the point for the most Palmetto Fellows.

Off the field, it was another historic year for Academic Progress Rate, Graduation Success Rate and Grade Point Average.

  • The Clemson Athletic Department tops the nation among public Power Five institutions in Graduation Success Rate (GSR) with a 97 percent mark for the 2013-16 cohort in data released by the NCAA.
  • Ten programs set records in Graduation Success Rate at a perfect 100 percent
  • Football’s 99 percent mark is the highest GSR score for any Power Five football program since the 2018-19 release, and the highest ever recorded among public Power Five football programs in the 19 years the NCAA has tracked the metric.
  • Ten Clemson programs earned recognition as being in the top ten percent nationally in APR.
  • Clemson student-athletes completed more than 3,200 community service hours.
  • Our POWER Women’s Leadership Academy just completed its trip to the Pacific Northwest to highlight its third cohort for professional development.

In short – it was an incredible year.

This coming year promises to be even bigger. During the 2024-25 season, we’ll celebrate the 50th year of varsity women’s athletics at Clemson. This is an important milestone that began with four sports in 1975 and has now grown to 12 sports and 150,000 fans through the gates in 2023-24. We’re investing, and we’re proud of it.

And, as we celebrate our progress, I know there are many headlines about the changing landscape in college athletics. I want you to know that we are working around the clock to do what’s best for Clemson, and to do everything we can to lean further into what makes Clemson different. We have the success we do today as an athletic department because we’ve never been afraid to think differently. Innovation is a core tenant and it is at the forefront of our steadfast commitment to competitive excellence and to build upon our brand nationally.

I have never been more confident in our position, and the driving factor is the 22,000 IPTAY donors who make it possible for us to have elite facilities, elite care for our students, elite academic resources and elite on-field performance. This is no accident.

As we get set for 2024-25, I hope you’ll continue this journey with us – the best is yet to come.