Clemson Athletics will discontinue its men’s track and field and cross-country program at the conclusion of the 2020-21 athletic season, Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich announced Thursday.
The program includes indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country, reducing Clemson’s future varsity sport offerings to 16.
“This difficult decision is a result of an exhaustive examination of our athletics department over the past several months,” said Radakovich. “After careful analysis, we concluded that discontinuing our men’s track and field program is in the best long-term interest of Clemson Athletics. This decision impacts incredible student-athletes, and we know how hard they work and the effort and pride they take in representing Clemson University.”
Clemson Athletics will honor the scholarships of all impacted student-athletes through their undergraduate years at Clemson at the level of financial aid that they are presently receiving. The NCAA-maximum number of allowable scholarships for men’s track is 12. Clemson’s 12 scholarships are presently split among 26 student-athletes, 15 of whom are scheduled to graduate by August 2021.
Clemson also supports an additional 25 walk-on student-athletes in the program. All coaches’ contracts will also be honored through their current terms. In addition to continuing to receive scholarships for those eligible, all student-athletes will still have access to sports medicine, academic support, career development, nutrition, priority class registration, mental health services and strength and conditioning facilities as long as they remain enrolled at Clemson.
Men’s track and field has been sponsored at Clemson since 1953, claiming 23 combined ACC Team Championships, 16 individual NCAA champions, 22 Olympians and four Olympic Gold Medalists.
–Courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications
Below is the letter Radakovich sent out to the student-athletes and track supporters.
Dear Clemson Track and Field and Cross Country Supporters and Clemson Family,
After consultation and communication with President Clements and the Board of Trustees, I have made the difficult decision to discontinue sponsorship of the men’s track and field program effective June 2021. The program includes indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country. First and foremost, we understand the disappointment and heartbreak of our student-athletes that comes with this difficult news. Many of our student-athletes and coaches have worked their entire lives to compete and coach at the Division I level, and this is certainly an emotional day for them. We appreciate their hard work, effort and pride in representing Clemson University.
After a long period of deliberative discussion and analysis we concluded that discontinuing our men’s track and field program is in the best long-term interests of Clemson Athletics. While this decision comes during the significant financial challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, those challenges are just one of many factors that led to this decision. We will continue to honor all student-athlete scholarships and provide them with support as they work towards earning their degrees.
In addition to maintaining scholarships, the impacted student-athletes will continue to have access to sports medicine, academic support, career development, mental health services and access to strength and conditioning facilities while enrolled at Clemson. We will also assist any student-athlete who chooses to transfer to another institution and fulfill all of the coaching contracts currently in place.
Clemson Athletics periodically reviews our sport sponsorships as a member of the ACC and NCAA, and makes changes based on several factors including, but not limited to: competitive balance, gender equity and Title IX compliance, financial positioning, impact on diversity among student-athletes and staff, and local and national interest and participation in the sport. In this case, the timing and decision are not a result of any one factor, but a series of considerations.
The annual $2-million plus in savings will be reinvested into other athletic department initiatives, including our remaining Olympic sports and will help to provide additional financial stability moving forward. The Department of Athletics has already undertaken several significant measures to address a projected resource shortfall of $25 million this fiscal year.
In our long-term planning, we looked at the changing demographics of the Clemson campus. Of Clemson’s men’s sports, only men’s track and field and cross country could provide the Department with both substantial cost savings as well as the ability for long-term Title IX compliance.
We appreciate and acknowledge the potential efforts to support or to reinstate the men’s program. However, the decision is final, and Clemson Athletics will move forward sponsoring 16 sports. The status of our women’s track and field and cross country program is not impacted by this decision.
We recognize that this decision affects many people well beyond our current program, including our former student athletes, our generous donors, parents, fans, supporters and alumni.
We have a long and proud history in our men’s track and field program and many incredibly talented student-athletes and graduates who have gone on to do tremendous things through the years. Clemson men’s track and field and cross country will always be an important part of Clemson Athletics’ history.
Director of Athletics