Clemson to Reinstate, Add Teams Post-COVID

April 23, 2021 / Athletic Leader
Following months of discussion with student-athletes, their representatives, families, supporters, and others, Clemson University and the Department of Athletics announced earlier this week it will continue men’s outdoor and indoor track & field and cross country programs as varsity sports.

In addition, Clemson Athletics will add one or more women’s varsity sports in its continuing commitment to gender equity and to supporting our female students’ championship aspirations.  A decision on which sport(s) to be added will be made in the near future. 

The decision comes after revised financial projections show the impacts of COVID-19, while significant, did not harm the University as drastically as anticipated.

Last fall, facing significant financial challenges due to COVID-19, the difficult decision to end men’s track & field and cross country was deemed the most prudent path forward. Now, significant contributions from philanthropic fundraising, along with state and federal financial support and appropriations, have positioned the University and the Athletics Department to reconsider its decision. Their generosity allows Clemson to reinvest in supporting the men’s track programs and to expand its women’s sports offerings. 

“This is the right decision for our University, our Department of Athletics, and, most importantly, for the young men and women who proudly wear the Clemson uniform,” said Clemson President Jim Clements.  “I am thrilled that we are able to continue these men’s programs and I am excited for the new varsity opportunities we will soon be adding for our female student-athletes.” 

While in recent years the Department of Athletics has added women’s golf and softball, the University has also seen rapid growth in its female student population.  In 2011, Clemson’s student population was 54.3 percent male. In the Fall 2021 semester, female students are expected to outnumber males for the first time.  

“I am appreciative of the support of the University and our collaboration that will allow us to not only maintain our current sports portfolio but add to it in the very near future,” said Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich. “As we communicated previously, the original decision was difficult, and we did what was necessary at the time to maintain compliance with gender equity while addressing our financial situation. I am excited about the future of Clemson Athletics and for our student-athletes.” 

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Clemson agreed with attorneys to conduct a gender equity review of its intercollegiate athletics program to develop, adopt and implement a new Gender Equity Plan to strengthen Clemson’s support for its championship women’s sports programs. The Plan will be completed no later than July 1, 2022, and will be designed to ensure that Clemson maintains, improves, and achieves Title IX compliance across all aspects of its intercollegiate athletics program.  The Plan will be implemented as quickly as possible, with all aspects of Clemson’s intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with Title IX by the 2023-24 academic year and in future years. As the world of intercollegiate athletics continues to evolve, Clemson will maintain flexibility with how to achieve gender equity and Title IX compliance. 

The original announcement to cut the programs said that the university was projecting a resource shortfall of $25 million during this fiscal year, while the cuts were expected to save more than $2 million per year.