CLEMSON — When Terry Don Phillips came to Clemson in 2002, he left behind a successful men’s basketball program at Oklahoma State, albeit one that was playing in a smaller facility in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
So he was surprised to find that Clemson was making four to five million dollars less annually than the Cowboys were, even playing in the ACC, one of the nation’s premier basketball conferences.
“You talk about a revenue source we’re letting die on the vine, it’s our basketball program,” Phillips said. “There’s significant revenue growth opportunities in basketball. We’ve got to develop consistency in that program. Basically begin to treat it just like we do football.”
That means giving it sparkling facilities, just like Memorial Stadium’s West End Zone addition, which helped spark the football program’s current run of success.
Phillips said construction of a new $5.1 million basketball practice facility adjacent to Littlejohn Coliseum is “the highest priority we’ve got.”
When it is built, it will include a new practice floor, multi-purpose room and locker room, and send a message that Clemson is serious about basketball.
“We’ve had some great coaches here, great players, great teams, but we’ve been inconsistent,” Phillips said. “We’re going to have to step out and make a statement to recruits and our people that basketball is significantly important. If you want to create new revenue, the easiest way to do it is to get good and stay good at basketball.”
Head coach Brad Brownell and Phillips have studied a number of facilities, and Phillips said the conceptual design of the facility is finished.
When completed, it will give Brownell a major selling point in the ultracompetitive ACC.
“Brad’s a good coach,” Phillips said. “He’s got an opportunity to create a great legacy here, but in order for that to happen, we’re going to have to do some things like this facility and step out there and nurture basketball just like we nurtured football. We do that, again, you’ve got significant revenue opportunities in that sport.”
Clemson is also working to build a new addition to Doug Kingsmore Stadium, which needs renovation in its locker room and home clubhouse, among other areas.
A players’ facility will be added to the stadium behind the first base seating, at a cost of $5 million. It will include a “Lobby of Legacy” where trophies and other achievements can be displayed, a locker room, players’ lounge, study and meeting areas, a training room, coaches’ offices and club-level seating for fans.
Drawings of the facility have been posted outside the stadium, and Phillips said construction can begin “as soon as we can start getting the money in.”
Like the WestZone, the facility can be built in multiple phases.
“People go in the West End Zone, they think it’s done,” Phillips said. “We’re still building the West End Zone. What we have here, we can start building it and develop the exterior and build on up as we get the money in.
“We can get our dressing rooms taken care of, our team rooms and then as we continue to raise funds, we can get it done in very reasonable time. It’s not a complex project. It can be developed in similar fashion as the West End Zone. If we waited until we could afford everything, the West End Zone wouldn’t be here.”
Construction is also ongoing on the Tigers’ new indoor football practice facility, rising on a field inside the current football complex. Phillips said he expects the facility to be done by December, just in time for bowl practices in harsh early-winter weather.
“I think we’re in good shape,” he said.