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Seat equity plan has nothing to do with facility upgrades

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As many IPTAY Donors know, the seat equity plan at Clemson Memorial Stadium will increase in 2017, and in some cases dramatically.

On Wednesday, The Clemson Insider sat down with Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich and the CEO of IPTAY, Davis Babb, in an exclusive interview to discuss the details around the increase and what it means for IPTAY and the athletic department going forward.

In this first of a series of articles about the new seat equity plan, Radakovich and Babb explain the increase has nothing to do with new athletic facilities.

Last spring, Clemson finished the new baseball operations building that is now housing the entire baseball program and recently completed the $63.5 million renovation to Littlejohn Coliseum, which is now housing the men’s and women’s basketball programs at the Swann Pavilion.

The football program is expected to open its new $55 million operations building, which will be connected to the Indoor Practice Facility, in January.

As you may recall, Radakovich built a model on how Clemson will pay for the debt service needed for the facility upgrades in an article back in May of 2015. Inside that article, Clemson’s athletic director laid out the plan and where the money comes from to pay off the debt.

Inside that model, IPTAY agreed to pay $6.5 million annually to go towards the facilities’ upgrades.

Even with the new seat equity plan, that will not change.

“IPTAY had already planned where its 6.5 million dollars was going to come from. This increase really doesn’t impact that,” Radakovich said. “It allows the other things that IPTAY does that have inflationary factors like tuition, like the employees that work there, the services they fund for us like strength and conditioning, student and athlete wellness … where their costs keep going up.

“That is where some of these dollars come into play.”

Babb explained the need for IPTAY is no longer about providing scholarships so fans can have tickets and parking. It goes far beyond that, and if Clemson wants to stay at the level it is at on the playing field, especially in football, then IPTAY has to help fund other things like academic support, student services, nutrition, the band and the strength-and-conditioning programs.

“Yes there is $6.5 million a year that goes to a part of paying for the facilities, but I think the scope of IPTAY all along was thought to be we are going to pay for scholarships, we are going to sell tickets and we are going to sell parking. That was true back then, and IPTAY has been very successful for a long time, but the scope has changed … That is kind of what the reality of what the scope is for us to keep the program at this level.”

Clemson and IPTAY are not alone. Other schools are having these same discussions all over the country when it comes to the demands they are trying to meet. In the 2015-’16 academic year, Clemson’s operating budget was $89.1 million.

“Athletics and IPTAY are in lock step on this. I realize it’s an adjustment for folks. I do hope that people realize that we are not just in a vacuum coming up with numbers,” Babb said. “I will tell you the diagram that was put out, and the numbers we talked about, we discussed for several months. What’s right? How many people? Who might get (hurt) here? This was not just something where we said here is a way to go generate revenue just for the heck of it.

“We have things that we are going to do with these dollars to help fund the program.”

Those plans do not include help with the cost of attendance, which schools had to start paying to student athletes beginning in the 2015-’16 academic school year.

“We have serviced cost of attendance for two years without this. So cost of attendance is not something that we see will have major increases,” Radakovich said. “The areas where there are increases like housing, food, personnel cost and benefit costs, those are the things that are trending upward.

“The cost of attendance, we don’t believe is something that is going to have a double-digit increase over time, so the dollars we have brought in up to this time have been sufficient for that.”

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