Through the years, some of Clemson’s best football players have also participated on the men’s track and field team at Clemson. The most recent incident came in the spring of 2017 when Isaiah Simmons participated in the long jump at the ACC Outdoor Championships.
And though the Simmons of the world have been few and far between in recent years, the connection and relationship between the two programs has always been strong, going back to when Banks McFadden was the 1939 Associated Press Athlete of the Year after he earned All-American honors in basketball, track and field and football.
However, those days are over at Clemson after Athletic Director Dan Radakovich announced Clemson is discontinuing the men’s track and field program at the end of the 2020-’21 athletic year, which will be in June.
“This difficult decision is a result of an exhaustive examination of our athletics department over the past several months,” Radakovich said. “After careful analysis, we concluded that discontinuing our men’s track and field program is in the best long-term interest of Clemson Athletics.”
The decision will save the athletic department $2.5 million dollars annually, according to Radakovich.
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.
One of those 22 Olympians is former Clemson football standout James Trapp. On the football team, Trapp letter for four years where he helped the Tigers win the 1991 ACC Championship. He was a starter in the Clemson secondary and went onto start and win a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
On the track, Trapp was a sprinter, where he was a 10-time All-American, won 12 ACC titles, six in individual events and six as a part of a relay team. He was the ACC Outdoor Meet MVP in 1990 and 1992 and the 1992 200-meter Indoor National Champion.
Trapp was also the 1993 U.S. and World Champion in the 200-meter indoor championships. He competed on the U.S. 4×100-meter relay team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He still holds the Clemson record in the 200-meters (indoor) and was a member of the mile relay team that holds the Clemson indoor record.
Clemson Football’s lineage in track & field is a long list of past national champions and All-Americans, including Jacoby Ford, C.J. Spiller, Larry Ryans, Jerry Butler, Airese Currie, Tye Hill, C.J. Davidson and Spencer Adams.
Radakovich did admit, when they started talking about discontinuing the men’s track & field program, they did consider the effect it could have on Clemson football recruiting considering how football has used the track program as a way to entice some of the program’s best players to come to Clemson.
“It was something that we talked about, but it just has not happened that often,” Radakovich said. “It was really not a feeder sport, much like it would have been fifteen to twenty years ago when you had multi-sport athletes.
“Some people might say that is a bad thing that it does not occur anymore, but the multi-sport student-athlete just isn’t what it was maybe a generation ago.”
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