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Terry Don Phillips Announces Retirement

Terry Don Phillips Announces Retirement

Clemson University Director of Athletics Terry Don Phillips has announced plans to retire from the position he has held for 10 years, and university President James F. Barker said a national search for a successor will be launched this fall.

Phillips had previously briefed Barker and the Board of Trustees about his plans.

“As I am now in the final year of my contract, I have decided to publicly announce my retirement plans, so that President Barker can have as much time and flexibility as is needed to conduct a search and ensure a smooth transition in leadership,” Phillips said. “I’m very proud of what we have accomplished at Clemson, and I believe the future for the athletics program is bright.”

“Clemson is a better university because of Terry Don Phillips,” Barker said. “His integrity, dedication and business insights have made Clemson’s athletics programs stronger financially, academically and competitively. Under his leadership, I believe Clemson has established a model athletics program — one that is characterized by full compliance, success on the field of competition, and recognition that student-athletes are students first. I have asked Terry Don to continue as Athletic Director until we have his replacement.”

Highlights of Phillips tenure include 57 top twenty-five finishes, 13 ACC championship, 77 winning seasons by teams and being bowl eligible in football every year.

During the Phillips decade, Clemson has been nationally recognized for its academic progression rates and had a record 2.99 overall grade-point-average (GPA) by student athletes for the spring semester of 2012.  On average, 53 percent of Clemson student athletes have had at least a 3.0 GPA over the last 10 years. Each of the top seven overall GPA semesters have taken place in the last 10 years.

Financial stability has been a hallmark of the Phillip’s era.  The athletic program has invested more than $140 million in facilities, attracted and retained top coaches, built financial reserves and kept debt at a low level.  In an environment where high profile college teams have faced severe NCAA compliance issues and penalties, Clemson has not received one letter of inquiry.

Phillips was recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics as the 2005-06 GeneralSports Turf Systems Athletic Director-of-the-Year for the Southeast Region of the Football Bowl Series. Earlier this year, the Bleacher Report sports media website named Phillips one of the nation’s top 25 athletic directors.

Barker said his goal is to have a successor named by the time Phillips’ contract ends in July 2013 so that there is no need to appoint an interim director.

Terry Don Phillips: Program Accomplishments the Last 10 Years


  • Won 13 ACC Championships in eight different sports, including five different women’s sports. Only Virginia has won ACC titles in more women’s sports than Clemson in that time.
  • Clemson athletic programs have had 57 top 25 national finishes, 37 top 20s, and 14 top 10s during this time. Fifteen different sports have had a top 25 finish, including six different sports that recorded a top 10 finish in that time frame.
  • Clemson has been to the Final Four of national tournaments in three different sports during this time, Baseball, women’s tennis and men’s soccer.
  • Program has finished in the top five nationally in six different sports; golf, women’s indoor track, men’s soccer, women’s outdoor track, women’s tennis and baseball.
  • Sports that have selections from a team standpoint to NCAA postseason have been selected 53 times over the 10 years. Golf and women’s tennis have been selected all 10 years and baseball nine times.
  • For the three years from 2008-09 through 2010-11, Clemson and Florida State were the only programs in the nation to be selected for a bowl game, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the NCAA baseball tournament each year. Clemson finished in the top 25 in the nation in football, basketball and baseball during the 2009 calendar year, the first time that had happened since 1987.
  • A total of 77 sports seasons have recorded winning records in this time. Baseball and women’s tennis have recorded 10 straight winning seasons, while football, and volleyball have had winning seasons nine of 10 years.
  • The Men’s Basketball Program has had five straight seasons of break even or better in the ACC, a first for the history of that program.  It has gone to the NCAA Tournament four of the last five years, also a first in the program’s history.
  • Clemson football program won its first ACC Championship in 20 years in 2011 and has had five top 25 national finishes the last 10 years.
  • Sports programs had a record 2.99 GPA for the spring semester of 2012. On average, 53 percent of Clemson student athletes have had at least a 3.0 (academic honor roll) over the last 10 years. Each of the top seven overall GPA semesters have taken place in the last 10 years.
  • Clemson’s APR scores have been outstanding each year since the NCAA began compiling them, as have been the graduation success rate (GSR). Fifteen of the 19 sports were at least a 970 APR for the June of 2012 report.
  • Clemson has not received an Official Letter of Inquiry from the NCAA on any issue during the last 10 years.
  • A major facility enhancement has taken place in every program over the last 10 years with an investment over $140 million with just $25.6 million of debt.  The combined unrestricted fund reserves for operations and facilities  have grown approximately 400 percent since 2002 from $9 million to over $50 million.
  • Over the last 10 years new coaches have been hired in football, track, Men’s basketball, rowing, and swimming and all took Clemson to top 25 seasons in those sports. The football, track and rowing hires took Clemson to ACC championships.

Quote from Clemson Men’s Basketball Coach Brad Brownell on Terry Don Phillips:“I am very grateful to the opportunity he gave me to come to Clemson two years ago.  He has been terrific to work for, and he has helped me develop a vision for the future of this program.  That is especially evident as we progress towards the building of the new basketball practice facility.

“One great attribute that Terry Don has is that he is a great listener.  He pays attention to what you have to say.  He thinks through your suggestions.  He also lets you do your job.  The fact that he was a coach probably contributes to this and is a reason he has been a great AD for a long time.”

Quote from Clemson Football Coach Dabo Swinney on Terry Don Phillips:“I am happy for him and his wife Trish. They will have an opportunity to do some things they have never been able to do.  We talked about it a couple of times and he is at peace with the decision.

“I just love him.  He is a great man, who is a man with class, integrity and he has vision.  He is a man with some guts…he had the guts to hire me four years ago for this position. It was a special moment last year when I was able to hand him that ACC Championship trophy in Charlotte.

“What he has done with the facilities in all our sports has been incredible.  He has given us a chance to compete at the highest level and  has changed the playing field here.  We just moved into a new dining facility in the West Endzone and next year at this time we will be in a new Indoor Practice Facility.  They ought to name it after him.”

Quote from ACC Commissioner John Swofford on Terry Don Phillips:“Terry Don is an outstanding Athletic Director that is well respected among his peers both in the ACC and across the country. He’s not only a superb administrator but he’s a good friend and valued colleague. He has meant and continues to mean a lot to all of us in the ACC.”