'They can't be a negative'

In part two of our three-part interview with Dan Radakovich, Clemson's athletic director goes in-depth about the facility improvements around town.

From Highway 93 to one area in particular along Perimeter Road, construction efforts at Clemson continue. Radakovich also spoke with CUTigers about what's on tap.

Other than Highway 93, what else is on deck?
Radakovich: That project, there are three entities that are associated with that project, Clemson athletics, the university and the City of Clemson. They call it the ‘Highway 93 safety project.' I think it's important to have because there was a safety issue associated with walking up Highway 93 up the narrow sidewalks, making sure that is safe for our students during the week, pedestrians during event days. I think that was very important. That's the project that was going on now.

The resurfacing of the baseball field is going on right now. We have several other projects that are in planning stages, not the least of which are decision trees and due diligence going on right now, as it relates to Littlejohn and what it's future is. We'll have some discussions on that as we continue through the number of affected people, by that decision. I just talked about athletic things affecting the campus and campus things affecting athletics. Littlejohn and where we go with that, if we build new, then there is a building on campus that could be repurposed for other opportunities. Same thing with the core campus projects associated with housing and dining facilities, and how something that we partner with the institution there might affect that project, but also move athletics forward.

We have the approval to move forward with the player development area in baseball. That has been on the books for a while. We're working with architects at that point in time.

You're always looking at ways that you can improve the experience and safety of people who attend events at Memorial Stadium. So that's something that is an ongoing process -- gates, ramps, all those different things that we are looking at right now. Don't have any specific projects ready for approval, but concepts that we're looking at, to make sure the experience that people have coming to a game at Memorial Stadium is as good as anywhere in the country.

What can you share with Littlejohn and where things stand there?
Radakovich: The Board meets in July. We're going to have a conversation about it. I hope that we leave there with a good direction, but I'm feeling my way through how all these communications work. I'm hesitant to say where exactly some of these things are, as it relates to formal approvals. I continue to learn how to deal with all of that. I've got great assistance and help from the people on campus here.

It either goes one of two ways. You either renovate Littlejohn Coliseum and create a really good environment for our basketball team, but there are ramifications of taking over that building and redoing it. There are other opportunities that are available…having that building empty and the campus can utilize that for other opportunities, should they so desire, if we build a new facility. I think if you look at a new facility -- and Littlejohn has been great for 45 years, it's been a really good facility, but the Atlantic Coast Conference is changing as it relates to basketball. We need to allow our coaches to be able to do things that allow our coaches to compete at that level. It was a really good conference before. It's a great conference now with the teams coming in.

I think it goes to our core mission, being able to field competitive teams in everything that we do.

The stuff with Kingsmore, you mentioned the field, but the inside stuff for the players…
Radakovich: That's moving along. There's an architect working on that right now as we speak. We hope that those plans, drawings and bids are far enough along that a year from now they're beginning construction on that project.

Just judging by what their competitors have, it seems like Jack [Leggett] and those guys are a little bit behind the eight-ball when it comes to competing with others.
Radakovich: Yes, it is. UCLA just won a national championship and I don't know that their facility is any better than what we have. But it comes down to people. Jack's a really good coach and he has good people around him. But I think we still have to be able to provide the tools. Whether it's baseball, whether it's basketball, whether it's football, I think there is a really easy cause and effect of the West End Zone area for football that was pulled together. The ability to attract top-quality prospective student athletes here and the great work -- you can't have one without the other. A nice building is over there and everything is working out great. But you also have a great coaching staff there utilizing it to its fullest extent. That's when facilities help. You can't just build a facility and think that people are going to come there, love it and want to go to the school. It's the good work of the coaching staff that makes that happen -- football saw that. We saw the indoor practice facility go up. They have a great set-up now to attract student athletes here to Clemson and to compete with a lot of schools, to be able to attract those young men to come here and play football.

We want to make sure that the same formula is in place, that our facilities are not a negative, so that when a student comes here and loves the coaches and loves the school and says, ‘Coach, I really like you. I really could see myself at Clemson, but I just don't see the fact that your facilities are at a level of some of the other schools that I like and some of the other coaches that I like.'

You're never going to be at the top of that list very long. Someone is always going to build something that's nicer, sleeker, better, etc. What you have to do is you have to be in the ball game and to be in the discussion. They can't be a negative. That's probably the biggest thing. Your facilities can't be a negative. That's why we need to continue to move forward with those projects.

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