A Conversation with Terry Don Phillips

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com sat down with Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips Tuesday afternoon to discuss a variety of important of topics, including DeAndre McDaniel, the upcoming season, out of conference scheduling and more.

THOUGHTS ON THE SEAT EQUITY PLAN: I have to congratulate Billy D. for an excellent job that he did and his staff did for organizing the seat equity plan this year. Tim Match was very instrumental in putting the plans together. Like every university, you go out and see what your competitors are doing and try to be fair to your fans and supporters. Tim through the subcommittee through the IPTAY board, did a thorough job with that study. ... For the most part, we have to be pleased with our season ticket sales and very pleased with the success of the program. At the same time, not everything you do is perfect. You are always going to have some flaws, but for the most part our staff did a really good job.

WAS IT A CASE OF LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE IF YOU DIDN'T DO IT? It does make it difficult when you've gone through a fairly significant amount of time and haven't tweaked the system in any significant fashion. Sometimes that can create a lot of heartburn. But in this particular case, our people have been very supportive of the plan. Again, that's a credit to our staff.

HAVE ANY FANS VOICED THEIR DISPLEASURE? Yes. But in visiting with our staff, that's been pretty minimal. But it certainly has occurred where there was expectations and when those expectations are not realized, then you have dissatisfaction. But again, our staff has handled that very well. I would say on balance it has been a very positive situation. You can't discount the people that were unhappy because of their expectations and we understand that and we are very sensitive to that. But overall, our staff has done as good a job as anybody in the country with a very sensitive issue.

IS IT A CONFLICT OF INTEREST FOR A COACH TO MAKE A DECISION IN THE DEANDRE MCDANIEL SITUATION? Well first of all, the coach isn't making his own decision. He's making a recommendation on what he believes is the correct course of action. [He could be overruled.] With regard to the policy, I'd like to take a look at it from several different viewpoints. As a player, I recognize it's been a long time since I've played but there are some things about young people that don't change. Even myself, without going into details, was caught up in a personal situation where quite frankly, it wasn't very pretty and I'll tell you, I wasn't guilty of anything. So I have some personal experience. And then, I also have a legal perspective to it. Not all cases are the same. Not all facts are the same and not everything that appears on the surface is correct. That door can swing both ways. I don't believe you have to draw a line in the sand unless there are situations that would suggest a particular program or particular individual doesn't deserve that consideration. Over a period of time, the facts will sort itself out. You don't necessarily have to wait through the duration of the judicial process. Somewhere along the way you become pretty comfortable with where you believe you are. This particular policy is not a football policy, it's a departmental policy that applies to every individual on every team we have. When situations like this occur, you take into consideration, the individual themselves, the record they have: good citizen, questionable citizen. You also look at the record of the team that's involved. What's the track record from a discipline perspective there? Those are the kinds of situations where you make a judgment call of what you'll do at that point in time. And that's where we are with this particular case. I believe I have a fairly reasonable knowledge of the facts and we'll see where it takes us and make a determination.

WHEN DO YOU ANTICIPATE A RESOLUTION? Well again I think the statement speaks for itself with what came out publicly yesterday. We aren't going to speak to the situation until the Solicitor decides what he intends to do. We are hopeful, but again it depends on what the Solicitor decides to do, we are hopeful we can have a meeting and better understand or get clarification on what we think we do understand.

ARE YOU THE AT THE TOP OF THE DECISION MAKING LADDER OR DOES INPUT COME FROM HIGHER ADMINISTRATION? The President and the Board are going to look to me and what my recommendation would be. Certainly, given their authority, they have every right to say well, we don't agree with that if they choose to do that. I think they feel strongly that we will do our very best to make the best recommendation and it's always subject to be overturned. It hasn't happened but I wouldn't disrespect that authority.

IS IT A COACH'S DECISION TO DECIDE WHICH GAMES HE CAN SUSPEND A PLAYER FOR? That's a hypothetical. There's no reason to talk about it. We have academic polices in place that are very specific (suspending players for the next game as opposed to random games) but on conduct no.

GIVEN THE SUCCESS OF THE PROGRAM IN RECENT YEARS, IS ANYTHING LESS THAN AN ATLANTIC DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTABLE IN THE EYES OF TERRY DON PHILLIPS THIS YEAR? The things I look at ... certainly where you are competitively is a huge part. That's why you have coaches, why you have tickets. People want to come and watch an exciting team and play for championships. That's what they want to do. As I've said before, you look academically with our kids and where we stand, and that comes with increased standards ... they have done very well academically. You look at what they've done with community service and the hours they put in without people even hearing about, and by in large, without any hesitation, we've had very minimal off-the-field issues. Obviously we've had hiccups. We've been talking about one for 30 minutes now. But the football staff, the football team we have represents our university in very fine fashion. We've been to the cusp. We are close. Our recruiting has gone very well. I will say this; I've worked a little over five years with Tommy. Coming in, there were things I saw, one we talked about was facilities. We had to pull ourselves up to be able to recruit at a high level. Our recruiting classes show that. We have dealt very effectively with our changing academic environment at Clemson. So on balance, there are a lot of things that are very good and we are right there at the championship game last year and we all know what happened. We didn't get there. But I believe we will get there. I think we have a good future before us. Tommy Bowden is our football coach and we are going to go on down the highway. You want to win championships and you want to win your fair share. So, I believe we have a good future and I think we are making some good things happen but I can sound like a coach here, you get two or three key players that get banged up and something happens, you know. There are too many things that go into a championship season. I worked with Les Miles. I hired him at Oklahoma State. He loses two games but then West Virginia gets beat and he wins the championship and now everybody loves Les. But it took Pitt beating West Virginia. It's those kinds of things. It's hard for me to deal with an absolute statement. You go back to what lawyers say, 'it all depends.' You can't get a yes or no.

YOU SHOWED A GREAT DEAL OF FAITH WITH THE NEW CONTRACT. IS THERE EXTRA PRESSURE ON BOWDEN NOW WITH THAT NEW CONTRACT EXTENSION IN PLACE TO GET OVER THE HUMP? The reason we gave him that contract was to get over the hump, quite frankly. There are no ifs, ands or buts about that. We believe going forward, our best opportunity for our program is to maintain continuity with him and our staff to give him an opportunity to continue to recruit and build the program. Again, I look at the timeframe a little bit differently than everybody else apparently. I think a lot of good things have happened in the last five years and I look for good things to continue. I believe, for the best for our program that if we can maintain continuity with Coach Bowden and our coaching staff that gives us the quickest and opportunity to get what we want - and that's to win a fair share of conference championships and compete at the national level like we want to.

UPDATE ON PHASE II OF THE WESTZONE? We'll be in the football facility June of next year. Then what we will do in McFadden and Jervey we will do a complete makeover for our olympic sports. We are going to have good quality space for all of our programs. Of course we are working on the leftfield addition of Doug Kingsmore. We'll stay busy for the next few years.

WHAT ABOUT PHASE III? THE MUSEUM? We've got to raise money for the museum. We've raised the money for the second phase [of the Westzone]. It's paid for. That museum, it's more of a university museum than it is athletic museum. Athletics are very important at Clemson as is the military heritage. The idea behind the museum is whether or not they know Clemson, by the time they go in and go all the way through, they will have an appreciation of the university, of which athletics are a part of.

HAVE YOU HAD ANY DISCUSSIONS WITH OTHER SCHOOLS ABOUT ESTABLISHING HOME AND HOME SERIES OR SOMETHING SIMILAR WITH ALABAMA? IS THAT ON YOUR AGENDA? That one just fell in our lap. ESPN got very aggressive. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl got aggressive. There were some issues with a Mid-American school. They began to pursue that. I think you'll see other schools, like FSU/Alabama and what they did in the Gator Bowl [last year]. And Notre Dame, they are playing Washington State in San Antonio [next year]. Then Notre Dame/Arizona State the next year. I think you are going to see more of it. This one this year, we had to work through some wrinkles with it. I think Atlanta is going to try and continue to do this. I think they are trying to make a push to have the Football Hall of Fame down there and have this as an opening game. So I think Atlanta will be very aggressive. We need the seventh home game. It's important to build the facilities and maintain a balance in our budget and insuring that all of our other sports have a chance to compete.

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