Tough Decision

CLEMSON – After Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips held a press conference Monday night to say that the school's football team wouldn't be going to a bowl game as a reprisal for the brawl that took place Saturday with South Carolina, he stood outside his office and admitted that he hadn't slept for two days while trying to come to a decision on the severity of the punishment. <BR>

Terry Don Phillips (31:20)

"I've been up-and-down the last two days in regard to what the right thing to do," Phillips said. "I've struggled with this. … It not just a football issue. It's about what Clemson University stands for and what it's got to be recognized for."

Phillips had discussions with the administration at South Carolina, and both schools decided it best to send a message and that each team would not attend a postseason bowl game.

"I suppose you could say that it was maybe mutual," Phillips later said of the decision with South Carolina.

South Carolina stands to lose $1 million by backing out of the bowl. Clemson most likely would have been near the breakeven point with its likely trip to Boise, Idaho. South Carolina said further actions may be taken against individual players, while Clemson stated that no further action would be taken against any of the players.

"I felt each team was culpable and we need to have punishments that were similar in nature," South Carolina school president Andrew Sorensen.

Phillips said he knew the decision reached with South Carolina not to go to a bowl game was going to upset the coaching staff, players and fans, but that he had no other choice.

"This is not a situation where a winner is going to emerge," Phillips said. "There are people that are totally against this decision. They're absolutely against it. They think it's the wrong thing. But by the same token, I'll tell you this … I would not have been comfortable but for this decision. And that's the bottom line. And that's just a gut feeling. You have to balance all factors and you have to understand that, again, it's about this university and what this university stands for. …

"I believe that there is going to be people that have already made their mind up, they're not going to like it and whatever I do won't change it," Phillips said. "I can't worry about what they say, do or think. This is a situation that I really labored on it. I don't like this decision, but again I believe it's the correct decision. And ultimately I've got to look at myself in the mirror."

The team was informed by Phillips at 4 p.m. Monday of what was the final ruling and they took it as well as could be expected.

Bowden, however, believes his team should have been allowed to go to a bowl.

"I don't think that would be fair to the players," he said Sunday afternoon. "It's a serious nature and you don't condone it. But again, we don't have a track record of doing this. It's not something that happened two weeks ago. It's not something last year. It's not something that happened three years ago. It's not something that happened four years ago, five years ago, four games ago, three times in my career here.

"To act and cut off everybody's head over one sin wouldn't leave much leeway. … It'd send a message, but gosh, I'm sure they wouldn't fire y'all for every bad article or first bad article. We wouldn't have any sports writers."

Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret said Bowden had no present comment about the situation and that the coach would discuss it at a later date.

"There's no question Tommy wanted to take this team to a bowl, because they deserved to go to a bowl," Phillips said. "Yet at the same time, Coach Bowden understands that … this is larger than just football. It's about the university and he accepts that. Certainly, he was disappointed and would have like to go to a bowl game."

However, Phillips and school president James Barker said what took place Saturday has ramifications that go well beyond the football field.

"We need to learn from this incident and others like it that are tarnishing the image of athletics," Barker said in a released statement. "I pledge to our students, faculty, staff and alumni that we will do all we can to restore sportsmanship to college sports.

"Attending a bowl game is important to the Clemson family, but nothing is more important than the integrity of the university. What happened Saturday does not reflect the values and character of Clemson, and we need to take whatever steps are necessary to make sure it never happens again."

This marks the first time in under Bowden that the Tigers won't be playing a postseason game.

"We'll be back in bowl games and we'll get that extra (practice) time in the future," Phillips said. "We'll be back."

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