Getting to know D-Rad

In part one of our three-part series with Dan Radakovich, the Clemson athletic director gets personal with CUTigers.com.

Radakovich, the school's 13th athletic director, took over the position on Dec. 1, 2012. He arrived to the Clemson campus after serving in various capacities at Long Beach State, South Carolina and LSU, to go along with his work as the athletic director for American University and Georgia Tech.

With over 25 years of experience as an athletic administrator, Radakovich replaced Terry Don Phillips, who worked for over a decade at Clemson.

So how are things going so far?
Radakovich: They're going well. Still trying to arrange all of the deck chairs the right way, looking at different opportunities that are ahead, planning the right way an interacting with the campus and the board, that's probably been the biggest learning curve -- every campus is unique in how those communications flow. And learning the best way to go about doing that, it's something that if you learn sooner rather than later, it helps move all your ideas and priorities forward.

At your introductory press conference, you talked about getting with different departments. Are you still in the process of all of that?
Radakovich: Done a lot of that, mostly as it relates to projects or departments that have direct effect on athletics or a tangent affect. I've met with housing people. I've met with parking people. I've met with student affairs people, the financial people. I've had a little time with academic folks, a lot of it as it relates to our Vickery Hall staff. I've met with legal counsel, facilities. So all of those areas of campus that interact with academics, it's important that they know who I am. It's important that [they know] the stakeholders or representatives in my organization are that they work with on a day-to-day basis. We've tried to do an awful lot.

The personal transition, I imagine life is a little more slow going here than it is a few hours down the road it Atlanta. Is it like that for you, in that regard?
Radakovich: I don't know. We haven't moved here yet. We're in the process of selling the house. We've got to get those types of things taken care of. I work as much here as I did at the other place. I guess that's just who I am. The pace isn't any slower. In fact, the pace may be quicker, because you're trying to do an awful lot of learning and understanding at this early juncture. I know Clemson is beautiful and the lakes are nice, the Blue Ridge looks great. One of these days, I'll get to see them.

Have you encountered any surprises since you've been working at Clemson?
Radakovich: There's a great sense of community here. I think you see that when people talk about the Clemson family. That's not just a word. That's a way of life here. The ability for people to communicate and talk through issues and look under the umbrella of one Clemson, to be able to understand how our actions in athletics affect other parts of the institution and actions of other parts of the institution might affect athletics. The ability to talk through that and communicate, to make sure that there aren't surprises, it's been really good. There's been an awful lot of communication. I wouldn't say that's surprising. I've heard that about Clemson, but now I have the ability to live that.

What did you do, in terms of playing sports growing up, what else is your background?
Radakovich: I played football in high school and in college. I had knee surgery the other day, but it's all good. I enjoy competition. I grew up in western Pennsylvania in the 70's, which was a really great time to grow up there. I love business. That was kind of my focus, educationally, but I enjoyed athletics as well, and had the opportunity to marry the two together, starting at the University of Miami, then moving on to Long Beach State in California, then moving on to the University of South Carolina when Mike McGee left Southern Cal and went to USC. I got to know him when I was out on the west coast when I was at Long Beach State and he was at Southern Cal, not being that far apart and competing in certain areas, not football, but a lot of other sports.

I got a chance to know Mike and he brought me onto his team in Columbia. I stayed there for a while before I became the athletic director at American University in Washington, D.C. for about nine months. It was at that point in time that Mark Emmert, who was the president at LSU at the time and is now the NCAA president, and Skip Bertman, who had just been named athletic director, were looking for someone who had SEC experience, which I had gained at South Carolina, but also had been a director of athletics, to come in and run day-to-day operations at LSU. In May of 2001, I went there as senior associate athletic director, and was there for about 5½ years in that spot. I pulled together a really good team of people and did a lot of facility building with their fundraising organization. I was able to be fortunate enough to go to a Final Four with their basketball team. Coach [Nick] Saban, the 2003 National Championship with the football team, a coupe of College World Series appearances, so it was a really good time to be there. Then, I had the opportunity to become the athletic director at Georgia Tech in April of 2006 and was there until December when, obviously, I came here.

It's been a really good ride in the career. A lot of it's based, and still is, on the business side of athletics and how it relates to building facilities, managing budgets, dollars and cents, dealing with personnel as it relates to pulling together a team of people, to be able to run an organization. Those are all things that you learn in business school and were able to parlay that into an athletic environment.

Was there a certain point when you were like, I want to been an athletic director, or did it just happen through the course of your career?
Radakovich: A little bit of it evolved, to be real honest with you. There were some times, especially when I was in Columbia, when I thought that it was definitely the next step. It's because, I think, I had an opportunity to be involved with so many things. That's what Mike had done for a number of people who were involved on his staff. There are five athletic directors who were colleagues of mine that would be at our Monday morning meetings back in the late 90s. It was look, you stay here, you do a good job, you move on to your own deal…we were very fortunate, the group of us that was there, to be under [McGee's] leadership. I was able to take that and parlay it to these other roles. At LSU, Skip really allowed me to do a lot of the day-to-day work while he concentrated on things that he did very well, which were motivation, fundraising and those types of things. He's a master at that. At each one of the places that I've been, I've been able to take bits and pieces from each of the folks that I worked with, and tried to utilize those on a day-to-day basis.

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