A native of Aliquippa, Pa., Radakovich's interest in Clemson athletics began over 40 years ago when hometown hero Butch Zatezalo signed with the Tigers' basketball team.
"Suddenly, a team from the south had a patch of fans in the north," Radakovich said on Monday, when he was introduced as athletic director at Clemson. "Clemson stayed with me."
Fifteen years later, Radakovich was in the midst of earning an MBA at Miami when he was reintroduced to Clemson.
"I was one of the 72,000 people in the Orange Bowl the night coach Danny Ford and the Clemson Tigers beat Nebraska for the national championship," Radakovich said.
Nearly a decade later, Radakovich made his first trip to Death Valley. Then, an athletic administrator at Long Beach State, he accompanied the team to Clemson for the 59-0 loss to the Tigers.
"I don't remember much about that game, but I distinctly remember the feeling, the atmosphere, the hospitality and the passion, and, yes, the rock. I remember thinking this is a place that I want to be," Radakovich said.
After seven years of service as athletic director for Georgia Tech, he accepted the same position at Clemson.
"When I heard that Terry Don [Phillips] was retiring I remember going home and telling [wife] Marcie, ‘I said there could be an incredible opportunity just a couple of hours up the road,'" Radakovich said. "And that's when I first started to think about it, when I heard that he was retiring."
Along with some assistance from Phillips, Radakovich reached out to Clemson and expressed his interest in the position.
"I think that after our first round of interviews -- we had several very strong candidates and this candidate might be the strongest of all," Clemson University president Jim Barker said. "We did an awful lot of additional checking about things, visiting about things. In our second round of interviews, it was clear to all of us on the search committee that was the right choice."
Prior to Georgia Tech, Radakovich worked as the senior associate athletic director at LSU, associate athletic director at South Carolina and athletic director at American University.
Radakovich plans to be in Clemson for each of the three remaining football Saturdays and working full-time by the end of November, making $750,000 per year over the next 5 ½ years.
Three other candidates were finalists for the position -- Clemson executive senior associate AD for IPTAY external affairs Bill D'Andrea, Georgia executive athletic director Dr. Carla Williams and
Appalachian State athletic director Charlie Cobb.
"That's going to take the first 90 to 120 days to really go through and survey the departments to find out how exactly what shape everything is in," Radakovich said. "It looks great and you can see the results of great hard work by the staff."
And he looks forward to the transition.
"Other than what's happened on the field, I've never had a bad experience coming to Clemson for a football game. It's just one of the most welcoming atmospheres in the United States," Radakovich said.
Radakovich named Clemson AD
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