Dan Radakovich Q&A

In October, just days before one of the signature accomplishments of his tenure was to open, Dan Radakovich left his position as Georgia Tech athletic director for the same position and new challenge at Clemson. It was a position he had sought out, attracted to the school from his first visit to a Tigers football game in 1990.

Friday, the day before his son Christian graduated from Tech in McCamish Pavilion, the basketball arena whose construction he led, Radakovich spoke with the AJC about his old job, his new one and the intersection of both. Questions and answers were edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: How has the job been so far?

A: It’s a new and interesting challenge – learning a lot, listening a lot and just trying to soak in a lot of the nuances and culture of Clemson athletics.

Q: What are some things you hear a lot of that you want to address?

A: I don’t think we’ve reached those conclusions yet. There are some opportunities to continue to outreach, not only with the people within the department, but on campus and members of the various governing boards for Clemson. The net hasn’t been cast out far enough yet to be able to say, ‘O.K., here’s priorities 1 through 3 and they’ve got to get done within X date and there’s priorities 4 through 7 and they’ve got to get done date Y.’

Q: How healthy is the department?

A: I think the department is healthy. Without a doubt, financially, there are always challenges in intercollegiate athletics, but (former AD) Terry Don (Phillips) and the staff that he has here have done a very, very good job of being good stewards of the resources that were given to them and that they generated.

I think what part of my big challenge is to make sure that we continue to move in that positive direction, put the right people in the right places. There is some staff turnover due to retirements that are going to happen, so there’ll be some opportunities to bring some more sets of fresh eyes into the organization. Those are opportunities ahead of us as well.

Q: What are the cultural differences between Tech and Clemson?

A: Every athletic program really wants to have their fan base to be greatly invested in their program. I think both Clemson and Georgia Tech both have that at this point. Clemson has more numbers of people who are in that boat, but that’s probably about it. Scale might be a little different.

Q: What’s one thing you wish you could bring to Clemson from Tech?

A: I think that one of the things that we did successfully at Tech was work through a long-term facility plan and help keep the facilities for Georgia Tech in a very good position to attract quality student-athletes and quality coaches.

There are some facilities that I think we need to sit down with the staff and coaches and university administrators and talk about where we want to be in five to 10 years with some of these things. That is part of the listening process. That’s part of the vetting out of priorities which is going on. The fact that we had done some of those things at Georgia Tech is not lost certainly on our coaches. Our basketball coaches say, ‘Hey, I know what you did down there. When’s that happening here?’ We’re going to see where that falls on the priorities list.

Q: You did the same surveying when you came to Tech. How have the two experiences different?

A: I think that it’s different because I have 6 ½ years of really great experience at a BCS Division I school at Georgia Tech, which is obviously within the same conference and understands the same challenges that go on here. I think it’s also a little different because I spent some time here in the state of South Carolina here in the mid 90’s. There is a little bit more familiarity with some of the processes and structures here than when I left Louisiana and came to Georgia Tech.

Q: Was there a point when you were at Tech that you felt ready to look for another job?

A: No, because I don’t think there was one time that I could point towards there – and I think I’ve said this on a couple of occasions and I certainly mean it – I enjoy Georgia Tech and enjoy it to this day. Saturday, my son (Christian) graduates from Georgia Tech. That’s going to be a special day and Georgia Tech will always be a big part of our lives.

When this opportunity came up, because we know Terry Don and we knew Clemson and again, having spent some time in the state, there was some familiarity with the area and it was geographically in the part of the world that we really enjoy, so that was more of the impetus than anything else. It was circumstances of the particular opportunity as opposed to waking up one day in Atlanta and saying, ‘O.K., I’m done. Let’s start looking somewhere else.’

Q: What was it like watching the ACC Championship game?

A: It was really good. I’ve gone to the ACC Championship game just about every year. John (Swofford) and the folks at the ACC certainly encourage the athletics directors to be there, so it was really kind of interesting watching the Yellow Jackets. Certainly so many friends Dr. (G.P. “Bud”) Peterson and (vice president for development) Barrett Carson and Paul Griffin and all the people in the athletic program. We’re friends, we’re colleagues, we’re still in the same league.

I want them to win every game except one. And I’m sure they feel the same way. It’s great when you’re able to compete with people whom you respect. I respect the folks at Georgia Tech in the highest regard. They do things the right way. They have good people there, and I wish that group only the best.

Q: What do you think it will be like when you attend Tech-Clemson games, like the men’s basketball game at McCamish Pavilion Feb. 14?

A: One of the things that I always used to try to do at athletic events at Georgia Tech is walk around, see people and say hello. I think I’ll probably be sitting in my seat and just watch the game as a visitor to the events. At Bobby Dodd Stadium, the visiting athletics director’s area is right next to (donor) Steve Zelnak’s box and Steve has already told me, ‘We have some surprises for you whenever you show up.’

And Steve has been just absolutely fantastic. Whatever success we had in the program, I owe a lot of that to the generosity and philanthropy of the Zelnak family. When President Peterson asked Steve to be the chairperson for the (AD) search committee, he couldn’t have made a better choice.

Q: Thoughts on your successor?

A: I know it’s a good job because of folks who are at Georgia Tech and I will certainly, when that person is named, reach out and let them know that I wish them all the best and I if I could ever be of assistance – as we within the ACC, we have a very collegial group of athletics directors who are not put upon at all when you pick up the phone and ask them about situations X and Y and how would you handle it – certainly would continue in that vein and hope to assist in whatever way possible the new person at Georgia Tech.

Q: Have you moved already?

A: We’re in the real estate market in Atlanta right now. Marcie is back at home working on selling the house. I have an apartment here, so it’s close by campus, which is wonderful and convenient. I don’t want you to be jealous, but I’ve used a quarter tank of gas in a week. And I don’t have a moped. But it is close. The traffic jams here are just minor backups. That’s one of the things that’s certainly very different when you make that kind of change.

Q: What have you done with all of your Tech stuff?

A: We passed them out to the brothers at ATO fraternity, where my son has received a fairly big care package. I know that there’s a few young men walking around campus in some very, very nice gear.

I think there’s some folks in the neighborhood who were Georgia Tech fans that we gave some things to. It was surprising, the amount of things you accumulate over a period of time.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

42 comments Add your comment


December 19th, 2012
1:20 pm


December 19th, 2012
1:26 pm

interesting article. thanks ken.

any news on his salary at clemson vs georgia tech?

a comparison of the athletic budgets for the 2 schools would be interesting. even details like how much the football staff makes at each school.

Tokyo jacket

December 19th, 2012
1:29 pm

He’s a good guy. I wish him the best.

Tokyo jacket

December 19th, 2012
1:39 pm

@ ken, I think the info www is asking about is pretty relevant to the DC conversation that we should have in Ernest in the new year. Can we afford/attract a mid- to top-tier candidate or will we be settling for leftovers. Money goes a long way in determining these things.


December 19th, 2012
1:46 pm

can we get an automatic termination due to probation clause?

5150 UOAD

December 19th, 2012
1:48 pm

He has to live in Clemson and has to wear orange. That is still not enough punishment for leaving.

5150 UOAD

December 19th, 2012
1:50 pm


December 19th, 2012
2:04 pm

D Rad is making about $100k more there than when at GT. I think its something like $700k (Clemson) to $600k (GT)


December 19th, 2012
2:16 pm

Ken – another good read during the down time before the Sun Bowl. Thanks.

Did anybody else see the credentials of the Utah State D-coordinator during the recent bowl game (Idaho Potato Bowl I think). In his first year, they are top 10 in turnover ratio (8th I think) and he accomplished the same thing the previous year at the Univ. of Hawaii.

Could be a quality candidate that also fits our budget and would welcome the opportunity to step into a reasonably high profile job.


December 19th, 2012
2:17 pm

Oh well, so much for that. Apparently, the Utah State coach is going to be named Wisconsin’s HC and he’s taking his coordinators with him. Dave Aranda is the DC.

Ken Sugiura

December 19th, 2012
2:59 pm

regarding salary, his average at Clemson is $725,000. At Tech, it was $640,000. I imagine the dollar goes a bit farther at Clemson.

Ken Sugiura

December 19th, 2012
3:02 pm

i’d suspect the salary budget will have some say in who Tech can hire. Someone asked about Lance Thompson the other day, and I pointed out that he’s actually making more as a position coach at Alabama than Al Groh did, $375,000 to $344,000.


December 19th, 2012
3:07 pm

just let CPJ be the AD as well……..don’t forget the uva buy-out let us get Groh cheap, Ken, once again proving you get what you pay for…….

Jon Heisman

December 19th, 2012
3:20 pm

D Rad, you did some good things, but you dropped the ball on the NCAA investigation and got our hard-earned ACC title taken away. The buck stopped with you, so I am holding you mostly responsible.


December 19th, 2012
3:32 pm

“Culture of Clemson Athletics”

Women wearing overalls
Tractor pulls

Only school in America that negatively impacts the farming industry of its state during football season if they have a road game.

Ain’t gonna be no plowing in SC this week. Clemson got a road game. Tractors gotta leave on Monday.

:) :) :)

"The traffic jams here are just minor backups"...

December 19th, 2012
3:47 pm

…boy, is he in for rude awakening on game day in Death Valley…

Hey, DawginLex...

December 19th, 2012
3:48 pm

…why are you talking about UK on a Tech site with a UGA handle while trying to disparage Clemson?

Tech all The Way

December 19th, 2012
4:09 pm

Jon Heisman, you are right about D. Rad he dropping the ball with Tech and the NCAA investigation. Also, didn’t disclose the whole truth either to the Tech family. He is totally responsible.
I can’t think of one good think he did at Tech after the situation. Glad he is gone.


December 19th, 2012
4:22 pm

Hey, DawginLex…

December 19th, 2012
3:48 pm
…why are you talking about UK on a Tech site with a UGA handle while trying to disparage Clemson?


Reading comprehension not your strong suit?


December 19th, 2012
4:30 pm

UK obviously prefer bourbon & branch….


December 19th, 2012
5:02 pm

will not be reading his comments, he left, good riddance, and looking forward when you put Clempsun on probation and have their title taken away from them…see how their fans like it


December 19th, 2012
5:06 pm

@TechAllTheWay – I agree with Tokyo Jacket that DRad did a lot of good for Tech athletics. I think people have really underestimated the extremely poor financial situation that Braine had left us with. I got a first hand look at the finances while in SGA and boy was that an ugly sight. DRad did fantastically well to bring us back in a stable financial situation and somehow managed to greatly improve facilities along the way.

That being said, I also agree that the handling of the NCAA situation was terrible and fell at DRad’s feet. Additionally, he has not fared very well with his non-revenue sports coaching picks. For all the complaints I have about Dave Braine’s tenure, he left Tech with an extremely strong stable of coaches (I believe the long leash he gave coaches worked very well in non-revenue sports, but paradoxically did not work well at all in football/basketball which bring in the money, and fans have a more “what have you done for me lately” attitude).

While I do think DRad will be a very good AD, I believe we got lucky, because it was time for us to move on, and we wouldn’t have been able to if he hadn’t chosen to leave. I think he is more of a financial guy, who was exactly what we needed after Braine, but now that our AA is financially more stable, we need a more athletically oriented AD.

DRad Interview AJC

December 19th, 2012
5:08 pm

[...] Interview AJC Dan Radakovich Q&A | Georgia Tech Reply With [...]

Jim Perdue

December 19th, 2012
5:24 pm

I know you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette but how much more in the red (if we are) are we with all of the new facilities compared to when Braine left?

TechApp fan

December 19th, 2012
6:29 pm

Some bloggers have indicated PJ has something less than a perfect way with reporters/fans.
Wonder if he was kind and gentle to DRad when he interviewed for the job. If he was, when did
he change?


December 19th, 2012
6:58 pm

Who cares? He is being dishonest with this little BS interview… Good riddance!


December 19th, 2012
7:16 pm

@WWW: Unrelated note, indeed. The link doesn’t work.


December 19th, 2012
8:31 pm

Has DRad bought his orange overalls yet?


December 19th, 2012
8:39 pm

J. Perdue – Not sure how much of an increase since Braine, but see this link for the amount of total GT Athletics debt.


UGA = Yawn

December 20th, 2012
7:51 am

I found this interview comical. Was it meant to be? The questions were so silly and easy. All the ajc reporters afraid to ask the real questions. Same goes for when they interview Johnson. Grow some balls men!


December 20th, 2012
8:14 am

I’m a Tech grad and fan and wholeheartedly agree with UGA = Yawn. Seriously, all those questions were softballs. Maybe next time you can try asking actual questions with the possibility of in depth responses.


December 20th, 2012
10:37 am

Will he be introducing an Orange Standard at Clempsum or do they already have one?


December 20th, 2012
2:30 pm

WTF? With all due respect, Ken – Who the hell cares about dr? Next!

Surely, you jest, .....

December 20th, 2012
5:44 pm

Enter your comments here


December 20th, 2012
6:29 pm

Great job….love talking Clemson sports in a Georgia Tech newsroom…keep it up, you’re going to go places….don’t know where, but you’re definitely going someplace…

Dacusville Bill

December 20th, 2012
6:42 pm

He hasn’t given Dabo a life time contract,yet—-That’s a plus—He won’t bring Pitiful Paul up to Clem and Son–that’s a negative—He’ll have to fire Dabo, because Dabo can’t beat Spurrier, so why didn’t he fire Pitiful Paul who can’t beat Richt—

Full Metal Jacket

December 21st, 2012
2:40 am

DRad did many good things for Georgia Tech but he did a great disservice to the Football Program when he continued the Braine trend of “downsizing” the football program and its resources and aspirations. Without saying it overtly, as Braine did, DRad made it clear he believed Tech football was small-time and unable to ever compete again at the highest levels. Never mind the success of the Ross years, and even the O’Leary years. He decided Tech couldn’t compete and set expectations and goals way too low, from hiring Coach Johnson (a good coach and good man) who is clearly not going to put us in NC contention. Perhaps everyone is resigned to winning 7-10 games a year, competing for an occasional ACCC, and cracking the Top 25 every four or five years.

Full Metal Jacket

December 21st, 2012
2:47 am

It is rather comical to think that DRad would think that being an AD at Klimpson is a step up, solely because of the money. I would never fault a man for making more money, but to indicate there is any degree of similarity between the two schools or the two administrations, much less the fan bases, is absurd. No, I’m not saying that Tech is more classy and better in every single way, but there are tremendous academic, cultural, and organizational differences between the schools. DRad is being disingenuous when he suggests otherwise.

Full Metal Jacket

December 21st, 2012
2:51 am

We can only hope that the next Tech AD is not a ’statement” hire but rather a bona fide leader and sports-savvy administrator who will be loyal to Tech and its tradition while looking to the future. I always thought there was just a little shoe salesman, or used car salesman, in DRad.


December 21st, 2012
2:56 am

The NCAA fiasco was 75% DRad’s fault and about 25% the NCAA investigator’s unprofessionalism. If Clemson wanted him, I’m personally glad they got him. I do not think he will last very long there as I don’t see how he could possibly fit in there. Then again, I’m not sure he completely ever fit in here at Tech. Either way, thanks for the good things, we forgive you for the bad things, and don’t let the door hit you on the butt on your way out.

Jacket Up

December 21st, 2012
8:38 pm

Drad`s move to Clemson reminds me of the story of how Clemson got its name.

Back in the 1890s there were a number of southern states which needed funds for developing local colleges. Under the Land Grant Bill, the federal government would provide the initial funds to organize and build needed infrastructure for these local schools, IF the state or its citizens provided the land for the location of said colleges, free and clear. Understand, this was shortly after reconstruction began in the poverty ridden south, and free and clear land was hard to come by.

Nevertheless, a wealthy South Carolina gentleman named Clem offered to the state`s College Development Authority 1000 acres of prime farm land for the project. The governor appointed a blue chip citizens`committee to run the authority, organize and hire the faculty, and all the things needed to form a college, including of course the naming of the college.

A year or two passed and Fred MacAfee, chairman of the authority, sent word to the governor he would like to announce to the public where they were in the formation of the college and also their decision on its name.

Notices were printed and put on trees and other upright structures announcing the public forum of “College Progress” to be on the steps of the State Capitol in Columbia and provided the time and date of the affair.

The Great Day arrived, as did 10 – 15,000 South Carolinians at the Capitol Grounds to hear all about their new school.

Fred MacAfee started out giving all sorts of statistics and other boring data – and after about tem minutes of Fred`s monotone rambling, the crowd grew antsy.

“Hey Fred, what about the NAME”, shouted one restless old man. “Yeah Fred, what`s the name, we can read about all that other stuff later, etc, etc”. “WE WANT THE NAME. WE WANT THE NAME!!!”

“All right, I`ll tell you the name, and tell you how it was developed.” Much cheering and yelling. “Please, folks. Please calm down a little, and I`ll tell you all about it.

“First, the name is CLEMSON – C-L-E-M-S-O-N. Of course we had to honor our benefactor, Mr. Josiah Clem. So the first four letters honor him right up front.”

Wild screaming, cheering, clapping, and yelling.

“Now, if y`all would quiet down. I`ll tell you about the other letters.” You could hear a pin drop.

“We felt that in sddition to the standard ciricula, our school would provide our students with certain ‘extras’, the things you don`t get out of a book, but they are expected from educated men – as our men will be. And there are three characteristics we felt were important in life”.

“Yeah, sounds good, Fred. Let`s hear `em”

“Well the first letter after the M is S. and that stands for CHIVALRY. And after S is O. And that`s for HONOR. And the final letter, and probably the most imortant, is N. And that is for KNOWLEDGE!. And that, folks, spells CLEMSON – THE FINEST YOUNG COLLEGE IN THE SOUTH!”

Fred ‘

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