Clemson makes the call on next athletic director

Clemson makes the call on next athletic director

Baseball

Clemson makes the call on next athletic director

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It didn’t take long for Clemson to make a final decision on its next athletic director.

In a move that’s been expected since Dan Radakovich left for the same post at the University of Miami, Graham Neff has been promoted to serve as Clemson’s athletic director. Neff’s contract in his new role was approved by the Clemson University Board of Trustees Compensation Committee on Thursday.

“Graham is well respected in his field and is considered a rising star in collegiate athletics,” Clemson President Jim Clements said. “He is, in every sense of the word, a five-star.”

Neff’s contract will run through June 30, 2027 with an annual salary of $850,000, which includes $100,000 of deferred compensation. His salary will increase by $50,000 each year beginning in 2023. Neff will also receive a $30,000 signing bonus.

Neff could also make up to $200,000 in annual bonuses, which would be earned based on “athletic success, fundraising success and academic performance,” Clements said.

Neff had spent the last couple of weeks as the school’s acting athletic director after Radakovich, who had been Clemson’s director of athletics since 2012, was officially hired at Miami on Dec. 9, but The Clemson Insider learned before then that Neff was a serious candidate to take over the position on a permanent basis. His former boss seemed to know what was coming earlier this week, delivering a message to Clemson coaches, athletes and fans about Neff during an appearance on the “Packer and Durham” radio show.

“You are going to be in great hands,” Radakovich said.

As Clemson’s deputy athletic director, Neff has been working with many of the Tigers’ coaches and athletic department staffers for the last eight years as Radakovich’s right-hand man. Most of that time has been spent with the football and men’s basketball teams as the supervisor of those sports, which have had plenty of success during Neff’s time at Clemson.

The football team, which will go for its 11th consecutive double-digit win season against Iowa State on Dec. 29 in the Cheez-It Bowl, won a pair of national titles in 2016 and 2018 and made six straight College Football Playoff appearances with six consecutive ACC championships before this season. Meanwhile, the basketball team has made four consecutive postseason appearances, including the last two NCAA Tournaments.

Other notable on-field accomplishments for Clemson during Neff’s tenure include the softball team’s first-ever regional appearance last spring in just the program’s second year of existence and, most recently, a national championship in men’s soccer.

“Dan has prepared Graham well,” football coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s a special guy.”

Outside of the competitive arena, Neff has had a hand in developing different aspects of the athletic department, including fundraising. He’s helped oversee more than $200 million in capital projects during his tenure, which include facility additions and renovations.

Men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell all but lobbied for Neff to get the job permanently days after Radakovich’s departure.

“I think he’s a rising star in the profession, and hopefully our administration sees that,” Brownell said following the basketball team’s win over Drake on Dec. 11. “I know he’ll continue to do great things for Clemson athletics.”

The 38-year-old Neff is one of the country’s younger athletic directors. A Georgia Tech graduate, Neff worked in senior administrative roles within Middle Tennessee State’s athletic department before arriving at Clemson in 2013. Neff began his time at Clemson at associate athletic director of finance and facilities, and Clements gave him credit for helping increase the athletic department’s revenue from $65 million to $140 million projected for 2022.

“He has a great working relationship with the coaching staff and has been a key part of our athletic success,” Clements said. “He is also well respected among donors and ITPAY members. Clemson athletics, as you all know, is a big-time job, and Graham Neff is well-equipped to lead our program.”

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