Tim Bourret never imagined he would be at Clemson 40 years, but now he can’t imagine being anywhere else
It’s funny how things work out.
When he came to Clemson in the summer of 1978, Tim Bourret’s plan was to work at Clemson just one year and then head back to Notre Dame, where he thought there was going to be an opening in the Irish’s sports information office where he worked all four years as an undergrad.
Thankfully for Clemson University, and for sportswriters in the state of South Carolina, the ACC and beyond, those plans never panned out. Instead, Bourret stayed at Clemson where he has had one of the more decorated careers in the history of Sports Information.
“The day before I left Notre Dame to come to Clemson, Mr. (Roger) Valdiserri told me there was going to be another sports information position in the athletic department,” Bourret told The Clemson Insider on Friday. “I thought I had a good chance to get that job. It did not work out, but I am happy that I have been here for forty years.”
After 40 years as a sports information director for men’s basketball, football and golf at Clemson, Bourret is calling it a career. The longtime sports information director, fittingly, announced his own retirement in a press release on Friday.
July 1 is expected to be Bourret’s last official day at Clemson.
“I have been thinking about it for a while,” Bourret said. “It has been a great run in football and everything has been terrific. Dabo (Swinney) is terrific and the players are great, but a couple of those 5 a.m. arrivals from road football games was just like a carryover. Dr. Bowman said the same thing when I talked to him about retirement. We are not getting any younger.”
Bourret also admitted the recent death of a childhood friend caused him to think seriously about his golden years and what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
“I still feel good, and I want to experience some fun things,” he said. “I’m still going to be around here. I’m still going to do basketball on the radio and I’m going to write for Orange: The Experience, and I’m going to write for the football program and still do something for the golf program, too.”
Bourret’s sharp memory for Clemson athletics, and Notre Dame too, have made him a favorite with the media for years. Also, no one has publicized his teams with stats, figures and data, plus allowed access to the players and coaches, quite like Bourret has done it over the years.
He has witnessed and publicized some of the great moments in Clemson sports — the 1979-’80 basketball team’s run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, the 2003 National Championship for the golf team and of course last year’s National Championship in football.
“Although I was around here for the National Championship in 1981, I was not at the game,” Bourret said. “I was with the basketball team because my priorities were with basketball when I first came down here, and I did not have a problem with that. Coach (Bill) Foster was terrific so I was not there. Being able to be on the field when Hunter Renfrow made that catch was pretty special so that has to be up there.”
The 2003 golf program’s National Championship lives up there as well. Bourret has worked alongside legendary Clemson golf coach Larry Penley for 35 years.
“You know me, I love golf so being there to see the golf team win the national championship at Oklahoma State in 2003, especially the way we did it, was special,” he said. “When we’ve won national championships, it has been in dramatic fashion.
“Oklahoma State was the Alabama of college golf in those days. They were playing on their own course and we beat them by two shots. That was just an epic performance behind D.J. Trahan and the rest of them.”
Bourret admits working with Foster and his basketball program are some of the fondest memories he has in his four decades at Clemson.
“You have a tendency when you have been at a place for a long time that the first thing that you do is something you tend to have fond memories of,” he said. “When I came here, I was only 22 years old, and Mr. (Bob) Bradley basically put me in charge of basketball. They had not had somebody in basketball before, so I kind of became Coach Foster’s guy.
“He really helped me get adjusted. He was a guy that would give me financial advice. He was just a wonderful person. I used to go on recruiting trips with him. We spent a lot of time together on those trips so I will always have great memories of Coach Foster.”
In his second year at Clemson, Bourret got the opportunity to experience still the greatest season in Clemson basketball history.
“Getting to the Elite Eight of the 1980 NCAA Basketball Tournament — that was just my second year — that was certainly very memorable,” Bourret said. “It was crazy because that was Clemson’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament and we were just kind of moving along. We were way out West, kind of out there by ourselves and basically got within one game of the Final Four.
“UCLA outscored us by eleven points in the last four minutes of the first half and they won the game by eleven points.”
Bourret says he cherishes all the relationships with all the coaches he has worked with over the years. He said former football coach Tommy Bowden was terrific to work for and they had a great relationship.
He has always enjoyed working with Penley and his staff as well, and getting to travel with the team to Ireland in 1999 and Scotland in 2001.
“Those were great experiences,” Bourret said.
Then there is Dabo Swinney.
“Nobody is better than Dabo,” Bourret said. “He is the most genuine guy I have ever worked with. He has just a sixth sense about everything that has to do with his profession and even my profession to be honest with you.
“He made suggestions to me that we ended up doing. He has been a joy to work with.”
In 2020, Clemson’s football program will make its first trip back to Notre Dame since Bourret’s second year at Clemson (1979). God willing, Bourret says he will be in South Bend on November 7, 2020.
When asked who he is going to pull for now that he will be retired, Bourret laughed hard and said, “It depends on who gives me the tickets.”
Then he stopped laughing and said, “I don’t know the Notre Dame coaches and I don’t know the Notre Dame players, but I know Dabo Swinney and I know the Clemson players. I’ll be in Clemson’s corner.”
Huh, it’s funny how things work out.