Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips announces retirement; search for new AD begins
CLEMSON – Over the last decade at Clemson, the West Zone was built, Oliver Purnell, Brad Brownell and Dabo Swinney were hired, and the athletic program avoided the financial distress and major NCAA penalties plaguing other programs. Athletic director Terry Don Phillips presided over this time, a period Clemson President James Barker dubbed the “Phillips Decade” during a press conference today in which Phillips announced his retirement.
“The Phillips decade is marked by integrity and wise business insights and as a result we are a stronger university,” Barker said.
When the Phillips Decade will officially end is unclear.
Phillips’ contract runs through June 30, 2013 but it seems unlikely he will remain in office to that date. Barker said a search will begin immediately for the next athletic director and he said the position could be filled this fall.
“It’s solely up to president’s timetable,” Phillips said. “I’m here until they finish their work. I’ll assist in every way that I can.
“I had made the statement (last month) that I was in the final year of the contract and I wasn’t seeking an extension. In order to be fair to President Barker and the program, I felt it was the right to make that decision (to retire).”
Barker, who hired Phillips, said he’s already assembled a four-person search committee to find Phillips’ replacement. Barker will lead the committee and has told them to begin searching for candidates. The Clemson president said he is seeking a number of skills in the next athletic director particularly the ability to fundraise.
“We haven’t had a meeting yet but I called everyone (on the committee) and I asked ‘Are you ready to go’ and they said ‘yes,’” Barker said. “I said start the process of using your network to identify candidates.”
When asked why he decided to announce his retirement now, Phillips paused, becoming emotional, before answering.
“I’m very blessed to have a wonderful wife,” Phillips said. “It’s important that we have more time together.”
It was not an easy decision for Phillips. There could come a point this fall where he will not be directly involved with college football for the first time in six decades. He played at Arkansas (1966-69), coached at Virginia Tech and was around the game as an administrator at Liberty, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas and Oklahoma State before coming to Clemson.
“Back in Texas, in grade school, I can remember starting (playing) when I was in fifth grade and I can remember being a part of a football season every year since then through college, coaching, and then getting into administration,” Phillips said. “It’s not an easy thing to lay down because this is your life.”
Phillips talked about his legacy Tuesday.
“I hope they see we tried to operate this program correctly from a position of integrity and type of coaches we attempted to attract,” Phillips said. “Certainly facilities have been a big part of the play to get to the consistent competitive level we want across all our sports. We have made significant in-roads and I am confident we have coaches in place.”