The Terry Don Phillips Interview

CLEMSON - In this exclusive interview with CUTigers, Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips talks about the possibility of a college football playoff, shoots down rumors about the Big 12 and much more.

The rumor mill has heated up again, Clemson to the Big 12. Is there any truth to that?
Phillips: There is no substance to that. No, no substance to this.

Not even any contact between Clemson and the Big 12 conference?
Phillips: No substance, whatsoever.

Now that the it looks like college football is headed towards the playoff, what are your thoughts on where it appears to be headed?
Phillips: I think it's headed towards a playoff. I think that's just the natural evolution -- what has occurred. A lot of people don't have the same appreciation of the BCS as I do. When Roy Cramer, then the commissioner of the SEC, came up with the BCS concept of trying to get your higher-rated teams into the BCS bowls or major bowls -- I think it's just an evolution and the continuing of that process. In the old system, you necessarily didn't have the best matchups in the bowl games. At least the BCS -- whether you agree with it or not -- attempted to put together what probably are the best two teams in college football. Now what has occurred over the years, it's really time to take the next step, and at least get you a four-team match-up. You have a better opportunity to truly define who the national champion is. I think it's a good, natural evolution of what occurred with the formation of the BCS.

"No substance, whatsoever." - Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips on Clemson to the Big 12 rumors.

If you had your say, would the four-team be the next step?
Phillips: That seems to be the direction. I'm not part of the discussions. We'll find out more about it. We're meeting -- have our spring meeting coming up this weekend. We'll find out more about it from the commissioner.

Anything new with Pitt and Syracuse joining the ACC, 2013 or 2014 -- that's still the targeted time for arrival?
Phillips: Yes. The feeling is that they'll be in the league in 2013. I think that's what will occur.

Is there another phase of expansion for the ACC, at some point?
Phillips: There has not been any discussion in that regard.

How about the facilities around here? Obviously the indoor football facility has started.
Phillips: The weather has been such that -- I know we need the rain, because we haven't had the rain, we've been able to get a lot of work done. We're a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, best guess. It's coming on line. I feel confident that we'll be in there next December, before the bowl games. It's going to be a nice addition to our practice facilities out there.

Over at Death Valley, there will be a few new things inside the stadium. Could you share those?
Phillips: We've got the video board, the sound system. When I say video board, we're saying video boards. We'll have the larger board, obviously in the east end zone. We'll have the two addition boards that will be placed where the corners are, the stairwells in the west end zone, so that everybody in the stadium will have good view of the replays. The sound system, we're redoing the sound-system, so there will be significant upgrading there.

The current video board in the east end zone will be moved, right?
Phillips: That board is less than five years old. It's still good technology. What we'll be able to do with that board, we will replace the board in Doug Kingsmore Stadium, for baseball. We'll put a video board in Riggs Field for our soccer programs.

We got thrown behind. We're dealing with a joint venture for the state and private funds where we're doing the Highway 93 project. First of all, it's a safety issue with that sidewalk, but it's going to significantly beautify that area with the tennis and Riggs Field. We're going to make that an attractive area, and we're going to be able to do some things with our seating on that side of Riggs Field, so that's going to be very helpful to our soccer programs…things are going along pretty well with the indoor facility.

The big issue that we have is the development of a basketball facility adjacent to Littlejohn that will be a significant upgrade to what we have right now.

What's the issue with that?
Phillips: We're in the design phase, right now, of getting the facility designed. As a matter of fact, we just had a meeting with the president this morning, to look at the design, and get his thoughts. Now that we have the president's thoughts, we'll begin to get aggressive with our design, so we can get out and begin to raise funds for the facility. We have good support for our basketball. This facility is designed in such a way it's going to make a statement as to how important basketball is. We've had some great coaches and great players and some really good teams. We'd all acknowledge that basketball at Clemson has been inconsistent. We've just got to get to the point where we're consistently a factor. We're going to make significant investment.

"We'll have the two addition boards that will be placed where the corners are, the stairwells in the west end zone, so that everybody in the stadium will have good view of the replays."
The fundraising is a private, capital campaign, right?
Phillips: Yes.

The Doug Kingsmore enchancements is the same, but a separate campaign?
Phillips: That's a separate campaign at Kingsmore. They're all separate campaigns. They're going to attract different supporters. There are people that are baseball supporters that don't go to basketball. Same thing with basketball, and there are people that support all three. We'll be successful raising the necessary funds to get these facilities.

What's the ballpark cost for basketball stuff?
Phillips: Good question. We don't have good, firm figures yet. I'm going to guess anywhere between $20 and $25 million, best guess right now.

Is the fundraising still in the infant stages?
Phillips: More or less, yeah, there have been some people that have already contributed, sort of betting on it to come, or they've made pledges. We're now getting what we believe to be what we're going to build. That's going to help us significantly as we visit with would be donors, so they can see exactly what they're donating for. That's something extremely important and critical.

With all that being said, it's probably a little too early to set a target date for it all?
Phillips: Yes, but we have got to work with a sense of urgency to get that done.

What's next with the baseball facility?
Phillips: Baseball is sort of like the West End Zone. The campaign is going pretty well. I'm not sure when we can start the project, but it's not too far down the road. One thing, it just depends on the funds that come in. It's like the West End Zone...we built the club seats first. We needed to create cash flow, so that we could do some of the other things, and that worked very well for us. We did the West End Zone in stages. If you didn't know it was being built in stages, you would have thought it was done. I think, conceptually, we can do some things that we want to do and really get it moving. There are probably some things, for example, we could build the exterior structure, get in do our dressing rooms and team rooms. Then, as we bring the funds in, continue to build until we complete it. I think we might have the opportunity to look at that. We haven't made any final decisions. Like basketball, we want to work with a sense of urgency.

And what was the price tag on that?
Phillips: It's about $6 million.

Over at the West End Zone, there have been a couple of things, like the training table.
Phillips: We just got through finishing that. That's part of the whole process. We started that…when I first came to work here, looking at the facilities, we were behind. Basically, we were able to get a jumpstart on the West End Zone -- I brought the plans over from Oklahoma State, what we were doing over there, and adapted it to our situation over here. Otherwise, we wouldn't be in the West End Zone. We were very fortunate that we were able to get a jumpstart, come on line with the club seats. Our people were tremendous in taking the club seats. I think they thoroughly enjoyed the club seats. It helped us generate a cash flow and develop the football operations. As time has gone along, we've been able to continue the original plan with the West End Zone. We finished the concourse wrap around, able to get the dining room/training table on line. We haven't used it yet, but we just now completed it. We've still got other things to do at the West End Zone. We've got to do the oculus and eventually the museum.

Season ticket prices were raised for the second time in three years, what are the deciding factors that make the prices increase?
Phillips: As a staff, we look at, what is the market out there? What are other people selling their tickets for? We look at the schedule. We've got some attractive games: South Carolina, Virginia Tech coming back, Georgia Tech will be here -- it's a very attractive home schedule. You price your season tickets that's reasonable and within the parameters of the past year's prices. Your individual game prices, those are obviously higher. We look at what other programs are doing, before making a decision.

The current fiscal year is coming to a close. Any idea how the budget will shape up for this next fiscal year?
Phillips: Not yet. I haven't gotten the preliminary budget. Katie [Hill] is working on that right now. That's always a continuing process. She's working on it as we speak, and she works on it continuously throughout the year. Our budget is very competitive and allows us to be successful.

With coach [Dabo] Swinney's contract, are you guys any closer to working on an extension?
Phillips: Of course Dabo still has three years on his existing contract. Obviously, we're continuing in contract discussions. That's what we're doing. That's always a continuing process.

Does coach [Brad] Brownell losing two assistants to high-major coaching positions speak to the kind of coach y'all think you have with him?
Phillips: I told him I wanted to apply. I want to work for him. It seems to be a shorter route to becoming a head coach. We're happy for Rick [Ray]. Rick, of course, did a good job…Purdue really tried to keep him up there…it was a ratification of how people feel about Brad, for him to, first of all, leave Purdue and come to Clemson. Then, Rick was able to get an SEC job as an assistant off of Brad's staff. Of course, [Brownell's] selection of James [Johnson] was very good. Obviously, the job turned over with Seth [Greenberg] and [Virginia Tech] brought James back. In my mind, it just ratifies Brad's ability, with regard to selection of coaches, and the fact that Brad is an excellent coach here.

That's one of the things why this basketball project is so important. Brad is a very good coach. He's got a very bright future. He's a wonderful fit for our university. We need to give him every tool that he can have to be successful, because I believe he will be successful. That's why we need to work with a sense of urgency. We don't need to continue to be losing good coaches. They come in, do a good job and they leave. We've got to break that cycle. That's why this facility is really important. It's got to be the type of facility that makes a statement: it's time for us to get out of the back seat and into the front seat. Top Stories