When Clemson's baseball team played host to the 2011 NCAA Tournament, it meant the Tiger sports program had accomplished something only one other program had done nationally. It marked the third consecutive year Clemson had been to a bowl game, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and the NCAA Baseball Tournament each of the last three years. Only Florida State has equaled that accomplishment.
Reaching a high level of success in the high-profile sports is a credit to the administrative acumen of Clemson Athletic Director Dr. Terry Don Phillips. Now in his 10th year leading the Clemson program, Phillips has enhanced the Tiger program on many levels.
The 2010-11 season marked the fourth straight year the Clemson men's basketball program reached the NCAA Tournament, a first in the 100-year history of that program. The Tiger football team has been bowl eligible each of Phillips' nine previous years and has had four top-25 final rankings. The baseball program has been to the NCAA Tournament eight of his nine years and has been to the College World Series twice.
In addition to the success of the high-profile sports in 2010-11, the women's track & field program won the ACC title both indoor and outdoor, a the second straight year they accomplished that feat, and finished in the top 20 in the nation at both national meets. The men and the women both finished in the top 25 at the indoor meet.
The rowing program had its third consecutive top-15 finish and the women's volleyball team made its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Overall, seven different teams finished in the top 25 in the nation.
In his nine years at Clemson, the program has had 53 teams finish the season in the top 25. Five different women's sports have captured ACC titles during his tenure. Only Virginia has had a wider variety of women's sports win league titles.
The 2010-11 academic year was also a year of great accomplishment on an individual basis. Track athletes Patricia Mamona (triple jump), Miller Moss (heptathlon), and Brianna Rollins (60 meter hurdles) won national titles. Golfer Corbin Mills was the United States Public Links National Golf Champion. Women's tennis players Josipa Bek and Keri Wong reached the finals of the NCAA Doubles Championship, a first in Clemson's storied program. Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the top defensive player in college football.
One of the reasons for Clemson's level of success as a total sports program has been his emphasis on improving facilities. On June 30, 2009, Clemson's football staff moved into the WestZone at Memorial Stadium. It was a day that brought a smile to everyone associated with the program, but especially Phillips, who had been working toward that day before he arrived on campus in 2002.
Phillips' vision for the WestZone was to create a top-of-the-line facility for the football program, but at the same time have a positive effect on the total sports program. The facility at Memorial Stadium now creates more office space, new locker rooms, and training room and strength training facilities for the Olympic sports programs.
Clemson recently completed a new boathouse for the rowing program, one of the top facilities in the nation, added the new multi-million-dollar Thomas F. Chapman Grandstands at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and a new clubhouse area at the Hoke Sloan tennis facility.
Clemson's golf program will open the Larry B. Penley, Jr. Golf Facility in September of 2011, as it will be among the top golf facilities in the nation. There are also significant facility improvements in the works for Riggs Field and the program's soccer facility along with a new baseball locker room.
During the 2011 spring semester, nearly 50 percent of Clemson's student-athletes were on the academic honor roll and seven of the 15 programs had team GPAs of at least 3.0.
All 19 Clemson teams posted APR scores of at least 945 and 13 of the 19 were over 975. Clemson's football program had a 977 APR score for the 2009-10 data, a cohort of four years that ends with the student-athletes who were on the team for the 2009-10 academic year. Clemson was 11th out of all FBS programs in terms of APR score.
Phillips has been recognized for these accomplishments in recent years. He was named as one of the top-100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America in 2008, a selection made by The Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island.
Phillips' athletic career and academic pursuits epitomize that desire. Believed to be the only Division I athletic director with both a doctorate and law degree, he uniquely blends the discipline and inspiration created on each side of campus. He has firmly put his imprint on the University and Tiger athletics by creating a balanced, positive environment for success that emphasizes academic integrity, student-athlete welfare, and competing at the highest levels with unequivocal NCAA compliance.
Phillips was also recognized nationally for his performance at Clemson in June of 2006 when he was honored by NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) as the 2005-06 GeneralSports Turf Systems Athletic Director-of-the-Year for the Southeast Region of the FBS. He was one of just four FBS athletic directors honored at the annual convention in New Orleans, LA.
Excellence in academics has been a lifelong pursuit. He has an undergraduate degree from Arkansas (1970), a master's degree from Virginia Tech (1974), a doctorate degree from Virginia Tech (1978), and a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law (1996). He is a member of the Arkansas Bar, South Carolina Bar, American Bar Association, and Sports Lawyers Association.
Phillips maintains a classroom presence by teaching a sports law section in Clemson's accountancy & legal studies department. In addition, he is past chair of the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee and continues to serve the committee as requested.
Prior to coming to Clemson, Phillips served as athletic director at Oklahoma State. Football was transformed from a perennial losing status to very competitive, enjoying a return to bowl games after several years and establishing a winning record against instate rival Oklahoma. For this, he received the National Football Foundation Oklahoma Chapter Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award in 2002.
Also in 2006, he was named one of the top-25 most influential people in the history of Oklahoma State athletics by GoPokes Magazine. This recognition reflected the substantial success of the all-sports program and the momentous facility development under his leadership.
Before leading Oklahoma State, he served as senior associate athletic director at Arkansas from 1988-94. He also served as athletic director at Liberty (1980-81) and Louisiana-Lafayette (1983-88). He was an assistant athletic director at Missouri (1981-83) and began his administrative career in 1979 as an assistant athletic director at Florida.
Phillips began his career in college athletics coaching football. He started as a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1970 and 1971. He moved on to Virginia Tech as an assistant coach (1971-78) before joining the ranks of athletic administration. At Virginia Tech, he served on coaching staffs that included future Clemson Head Coaches Charley Pell and Danny Ford.
Winning has been on Phillips' résumé since his playing days at Arkansas. He lettered on three Frank Broyles teams, where he and his brother Loyd, an Outland Trophy winner, were starting defensive tackles, the first brother combination to start together under Broyles. Arkansas had a 27-5 record in the three years, played in two Sugar Bowl games, and he played in the memorable 1969 National Championship game against Texas, a contest that continues to be featured on ESPN Classic.
In September of 2010, he joined his brother Loyd in the University of Arkansas Hall of Honor.
Phillips has two children, John Dennis and Sarah-Jane, and three stepchildren, Meagan (Clemson graduate and former member of Tiger Band), Marshall, and Madison. His wife Tricia is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and earlier enjoyed a career in athletics and development. She is now active in the Clemson and Seneca communities.