The State recently sat down with Clemson Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich to discuss a variety of topics, including his reaction to the NCAA denying Clemson’s appeal, the baseball program’s postseason struggles and the men’s basketball team performing well in the World University Games.
Here is a portion of the interview:
With the NCAA appeal process with the failed drug tests and the internal investigation that Clemson conducted, was there anything you learned from that or anything that you feel like you need to change moving forward?
We always are looking at our policies and procedures to make sure that they’re as good as they can be, from our purchasing procedures to how things are distributed. No, there’s not anything that kind of stood out and said, ‘Hey, here’s the red flag that says you need to change this.’ But it’s something that we monitor all the time.
What was your reaction to the suspensions being upheld?
Well, I thought that the student-athletes and their attorneys, along with the work that we assisted them with, put together a very good appeal case. It didn’t go our way. You look at other appeals that have kind of come forward from that group and not many have gone their way. It was an uphill battle to begin with, but I thought we did a really good job with it. I feel bad for the young men. I feel bad for our football team. But we’re going to move forward. One of the great things about Dabo (Swinney) is his ability to look forward, look at, ‘OK, this is what we have here, let’s move ahead.’ So, again, I think it’s something that was disappointing, but you can’t dwell on it.
There has been some criticism of Clemson for not being completely open and transparent throughout this process. What are your thoughts on that?
There’s certain things you can talk about. There’s certain things legally you can’t talk about. So that’s kind of where it is. There is no gray, and if folks don’t get that I can’t help them.
The basketball program had a very successful run in the World University Games. Do you think that can be a springboard for the team for next season?
You go back to some years when the basketball team went on a foreign tour... after we went to Spain (in 2017) we ended up that season (2017-18) having a really good year and going to the Sweet 16. I think that there was a lot of camaraderie, bonding that was done by the players, and from what I’ve been able to see through just some text messages back and forth and certainly from watching on social media, it seems like that is occurring as well.
This is a very different team. We had the unfortunate injuries to Clyde (Trapp) and JB (Jonathan Baehre)… People are going to have to step up, and I think what they’ve been able to show with the World University Games is there are some good players on this team and they’re playing well together and being unselfish and playing a little quicker than maybe they have in the past.
With baseball losing again in a regional is that a concern? And what do you feel like needs to change there to get those struggles corrected?
The person who is most frustrated with it is Monte (Lee), because it’s kind of one of those things where you’ve just gotta kind of kick the door down a little bit, and I think that’ll happen. Monte’s a very, very good baseball coach. We had a few injuries during the course of the baseball season, and we actually had some injuries before the year started. We ended up starting really well, but those guys probably weren’t the horses that were going to take you late into the season, and into the postseason. Those guys were on the shelf. So I think he did a great job getting into the NCAA tournament, playing as well as he did with the folks that were there in this season, and you look at the guys that are coming back, there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic with that program.
I’m guessing you followed the testimony during the FBI hoops trial. How did we get to a point where you have college basketball coaches holding secret meetings in Las Vegas with people that a federal jury found guilty of committing bribery?
Probably the light is shining on basketball right now. It’s a sport where one or two players can make a difference, so a lot of folks are maybe going in a negative direction. It’s not news. I’ve been in the business for 30-some odd years, and I remember back in the 90s, schools were becoming basketball powers out of nowhere. It’s been going on forever. I think that maybe what this has shown is you don’t need to do that to be successful. Probably one of the neatest things at the ACC spring meetings was a conversation between Tony Bennett and Dabo, because both of those guys are incredibly high integrity individuals. Their programs are run the right way. You can win the right way. And if there’s one thing that I would love to be able to permeate through our business is if you care about your players, if you care about your staff, you work hard, you do things the right way, you can have success. You don’t need to always take the shortcuts.
What kind of impact do you expect the ACC Network to have, both from a financial and exposure standpoint?
It’s going to help exposure in some of our Olympic sports, but that’s one of the things you have to look at on a longer term basis. You may not have as many soccer games on as you’d like in Year 1, but we have 15 schools that need to get on those games. But over the course of time I think that will even out, and the better we play the more we’ll be on the network in those Olympic sports.
I think it’s going to be great for football. Outside of the opening game against Georgia Tech and maybe one of our nonconference games, I don’t know where we’ll stand in the pecking order for the ACC Network. Those will be determined.
Financially it’ll be better in Year 2 and 3 than it is in Year 1, as the distribution continues to grow and opportunities for our partner ESPN to expand the footprint. The great thing about it is they are our partner. They’re a 50 percent owner in this ACC Network, so they have a lot of incentive to help drive distribution, create great content, be a place where people want to come and watch ACC sports.
Are there any other programs you would be interested in scheduling a football series with, or at this point is the schedule pretty set for the foreseeable future?
(Oklahoma AD) Joe Castiglione, who is a very good friend of mine, and I got lambasted for doing a 2035-36 contract, so I think I’m going to take a break for a little while. We both promised each other RV passes if we’re still around at that point in time. But our schedule with the marquee games is pretty much taken care of up through that time period. We’ll have Notre Dame, we’ll have Georgia a few times. We’ll have LSU two times and then Oklahoma. So we’re pretty much set there with those and South Carolina always. Those two Power 5 type of opponents are pretty much set into the next 15 years.