Transcript From Terry Don Phillips Press Conference
James F. Barker, Clemson University President “Terry Don Phillips was the Athletic Director for 53 All-Americans and he is chair of one of the key NCAA committees nationally. He has three graduate degrees, including a doctorate in Education, and a degree in law and is a member of the bar in the state of Arkansas. He began his career as a football player at the University of Arkansas and he has been a coach at several major universities. He is a teacher and will teach a course in business law at Clemson. I wanted to let you know that, (to Phillips) and I have gotten those approvals for you to line that up. He is a scholar. He wrote his dissertation on Title IX in the late 1970’s. So one of the people who began to understand the complexities and the opportunities and the challenges of Title IX is Terry Don Phillips.
“Therefore, you would be hard-pressed to find a more qualified candidate and we think he is the best candidate in what was an extraordinary field of candidates. We feel very fortunate to have recruited him to Clemson, and we have heard through our due diligence about him. There are quotes that I want to share with you. I won’t attribute them to any one person, but they are from the leaders in athletic administration around the country. And these are some of those quotes:
‘Wow. If you can get him, you better do it.’
‘I have enormous respect for him’ is another quote.
‘He’s on everybody’s list but he always says ‘no’ because of he is so attached to Oklahoma State University.’
Another said, ‘He is one of the top Athletic Directors in the country.’ “In other words, Terry Don Phillips can be anywhere he wants to be as Athletic Director, and we are delighted that he has chosen to be at Clemson. Terry Don’s views on athletics align perfectly with our vision for Clemson University and its future. That vision is to become one of the nation’s top 20 public universities. He believes in winning championships, not just conference championships, but national championships. He is as competitive as anyone you would ever want to meet, but he also knows that college athletics is about more than that. It’s about integrity; it’s about full compliance and helping young people achieve their full potential as student-athletes.
“Before I invite him to say a few words, let me also commend the search process itself. I told the staff just now that I now know why people have big search committees. There is a lot of work to do and when there are only three people involved. I think it was important that we keep the committee small in order to maintain the confidentiality so that we could have conversations with some of the Athletic Directors around the country that we wanted to talk with. It also put a great burden on two particular people – Cecil Huey, our Faculty Athletic Representative, and Neil Cameron, our Vice President for Advancement at Clemson. These two people have served Clemson University in the last three or four months in remarkable ways, and I am very grateful for their service.
“We had more than 60 candidates for this position and that is a tribute to Bobby Robinson and to the staff and coaches that Bobby has gathered. Bobby, you need to know that what you have done in building one of the nation’s top athletics programs is one of the reasons why we have been able to attract the field of candidates and finally a person of the quality of Terry Don Phillips. I have said this before, but I want you to know publicly how grateful we are for that work. That goes for all the staff in athletics at Clemson.
“Now I would like to turn the podium over to our new AD, but before I do that, he has an orange tie on but as far as I am concerned that is not enough. If I can get some help from Tim Bourret, I will start to play tailor here.” (President Barker helps Terry Don Phillips into Clemson orange blazer). (Applause)
Terry Don Phillips, Clemson University Director of Athletics “(About blazer) I like that. This is the first place I have ever gone to that I got a jacket. I’m starting to feel like I am at the Masters. (Laughter).
“Let me, as best I can, put into context how I feel at this moment. President Barker was exactly correct with regard to how he expressed my feelings toward Stillwater and Oklahoma State. When you make a move, sometimes you don’t know how that move is going to turn out. When I went to Oklahoma State, we were just beginning to go into the Big 12 Conference and it really didn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the facilities and know that we had some huge issues if Oklahoma State was going to have an opportunity to be competitive on a consistent basis in the Big 12 Conference. Through the task of working through some very major issues particularly with facilities – and we all know how complex and cumbersome that can be – I really came to fully appreciate the people at Oklahoma State. President (Dr. James) Halligan was absolutely the very best president, up until this point, that I have had an opportunity to work for. (Laughter). The administrative staff at Oklahoma State was marvelous to work with. A lot of good things did happen, but that was because it was the coaches, the staff and the student-athletes. I am just along for the ride with them.
“Through that process, you really begin to create a love and an appreciation of who the people are and it’s difficult to leave Oklahoma State because it is special. When this opportunity began to emerge, Trish and I talked about it and we full-well understood that to leave Oklahoma State, it would have to be a very special place and a very special opportunity. Clemson is a very special place and it is a very special opportunity.
“I want to echo what President Barker said about Bobby Robinson. Bobby and I really don’t know one another, but I have seen him from a distance. The type of program that is here is a tribute to him and his leadership. There is a tremendous foundation to build upon. Bobby, I am going to do everything I can not to mess it up. (Laughter) I am going to work hard and I hope that you will let me lean on you as much as I very possibly can. I very much appreciate what is here. This is a tremendous opportunity and I am very blessed and very thankful that Trish and I have the opportunity to join our family with the Clemson University family. We are very happy.
“I am going to show you a little about my organizational skills, because I am going to start to wing it. My notes are in the car. (Laughter). So, having said that, I really like the vision that President Barker has for Clemson University being one of the top 20 public universities in the nation. Athletics, and what we do in building on the foundation that is already here will play a very key role in fulfillment of that vision. To fulfill that vision means very simply that we have to create an environment that reflects very positively on Clemson University as a whole. In order to do that, we must do well by our student-athletes. They have got to come to come to Clemson and have a great student-athlete experience. We have got to work hard with our retention and graduation issues, just like every other university. That is so necessary for the fulfillment of this vision. Certainly, competitive excellence is part of that, and we understand it is a huge part of that. The foundation is here with tremendous success in the past and it’s a great tribute to the coaches and staff and past administrations, particularly Bobby’s administration.
“Having said that, I again want to emphasize how delighted we are to be here. I really like what President Barker did. He said it is part of my contract that we need for you to teach a course, and I am delighted to have that opportunity to return into teaching and be part of the academic community. I enjoy that for a couple of reasons. Number one, it gets you out of the athletic realm, because I do understand that there are other worlds out there other than athletics. It gives me an opportunity to get out on campus to be a part of a great university and I am really looking forward to that part of my position.”
December 1, 2023