Feb. 22, 2006
GEORGIA TECH PRESIDENT DR. WAYNE CLOUGH
“Pleased to welcome the members of the press, distinguished guests that are here, members of the Georgia Tech family, alumni, students, faculty and staff. Thank You for all coming. As you know we are here to talk about the new athletics director for Georgia Tech, to replace Dave Braine who is retiring. We had a very comprehensive process to try and find the best talent in the country to be considered for this important job. I think that everyone in this room understands that the job of an athletics director has gotten consistently more complicated over time. Dealing with finances, dealing with issues of policy and facilities, and trying to serve a need for our wonderful student-athletes.”
“I’d like to explain a little bit about our process. We were assisted in our process by the firm Baker Parker. We received applications from a wide range of sources, from friends and from family. Every application, every nomination, ever name was put into a pot to consider all those individuals. Baker Parker made some suggestions, many of our Board members made suggestions, John Swofford assisted us in the process of developing a pool. It was a very strong pool of candidates, consisting of in some cases sitting [Athletic Directors], some cases Associate [Athletic Directors], and some we consider non-traditional candidates who were not in athletic administration at this point in time per say in their history. We were able to meet with a fairly significant number of these individuals that we thought truly merited that type of attention and we had good time with those individuals. I had a great search committee, and a number of those people are here and I’ll introduce them in just a moment. As of yesterday, we narrowed the search down to two individuals, both of whom we felt could do this job, both of whom had great strengths and had different strengths for the position. We had meetings with them, with our coaches, with our staff, with my senior staff, because as you know at this level the AD has to work closely with the president and president’s staff, and with academics as well as with athletics. We worked into the evening, trying to make sure that we had all the information that we could possibly get that was relevant to this choice.
“I do want to thank a number of people who participated in the process, it was a lot of hard work. I will ask the members of the search committee to stand; David Anderson who is our Student Government President, Chuck Easley, a former football player and a member of our Athletic Board, Joe Irwin who is President of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association, and Dan Schrage, our faculty representative. So those folks represented the Athletic Board for us and our process at Georgia Tech, to complete the process we have to develop a requisite individual, make a recommendation and the Athletic Board and they has to vote in favor of a candidate. We fortunately had a regular scheduled meeting today, we’re able to meet with the board, and they unanimously approved Dan Radakovich, who is our new athletics director. I’d like to thank Lynn Durham who worked very hard on things from our side of the house. Certainly I’d like to say great thanks Dave Braine, for all the work he’s done here at Georgia Tech for his nine, going on 10 years at Georgia Tech, where he certainly elevated all of our sports programs to new heights. The last two years achieving the highest ranking in the Director’s Cup in our history. We are very grateful of Dave, we wish him the best in his recovery from his serious health challenges, and hope all the best for him and his family. We also appreciate advice from our good friend Homer Rice, who for his sake is down fishing at Marco [Island], but we were able to get in touch with Homer and he gave us his advice. I mentioned John Swofford, who was very helpful, and the firm of Baker Parker. Also want to say my deepest thanks to Bill Curry, who was a finalist as everyone knows. Bill has tremendous strengths, we have great admiration for Bill Curry as a person and everything he has done, and his contributions to Georgia Tech. I am personally very grateful of Bill Curry for participating in the process, and for his grace in his actions throughout the process, and his expressed desire to serve his alma mater. I say thank you very much to Bill Curry.
“I will indicate that we had one candidate that we could not talk to the table. A gentlemen by the name of George P. Burdell, some of you may know George as a legendary student at Georgia Tech. George started matriculating at Georgia Tech in 1928, he’s managed to complete some course every since he’s been at Georgia Tech all that time. He did attend Harvard for a period of time. He applied and sent very, very eloquent application, which I loved reading, but he declined to be interviewed, however.
“So it’s now my pleasure to introduce Dan Radakovich to you, he comes to us from his present position as Senior Athletics Associate Director. There six years, in a winning program, in a program that is one of the strongest in the country. We are excited that he is willing to come to an ACC school and that Dan is excited to be here. He has 20 years of management experience in collegiate athletics and that’s important to us in this day in age with complex athletic budgets and complex athletic issues. He has passion about college athletics and he expressed that in his interview. He was a student-athlete himself, he has a full appreciation of the challenges facing these great young people as they try and compete at the highest level of athletics and at the highest level of academics and he appreciates that challenge. He’s also known as a strong administrator, that is something that we believe is important as we look to the future of Georgia Tech and a strong fund raiser. He’s participated in that at LSU and his other stops. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a MBA from the University of Miami and has participated in Sports Management Institute Executive Education program. His experience in managing large athletic budgets, LSU’s athletic budget is similar to Georgia Tech, dealing with conflicting challenges facing all of us, we think is important for the future. Finally I would like to note that Dan is a winner, he believes in winning, he believes in competing and he thinks he can help Georgia Tech, as we try and lift our athletics program to the next level in the future. Here today with Dan is his wife, Marcy, and their children Christian and Grant are not with them, but they are looking forward to being in Atlanta. We’ve had a wonderful time meeting Marcy, my wife and I were very impressed with her and we look forward to getting to know her and children more in the future. So it’s my great pleasure on behalf of the Georgia Tech community to introduce Dan Radakovich as the new athletics director at Georgia Tech.”
DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS DAN RADAKOVICH
“Thank you President Clough, it’s certainly a pleasure to be here. It’s the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and it’s a pleasure to be here and share this with my wife, Marcy. I’d like to thank President Clough and the search committee for having the confidence in me, and seeing through the interview process that this is that passion for college athletics and understanding it is a unique game. It is a unique set of circumstances where student-athletes have duo, and sometimes more than duo, roles on a college campus as being competitive student-athlete as well as carrying the rigors and burdens of being a student at one of the top 10 public institutions in the entire country. It’s a daunting task for our student-athletes and we wanted to make sure that as an athletics program, specifically as administrators, that we give them all the tools possible to make their time here at Georgia Tech very successful. There’s some other people that I’d like to thank, certainly Davie Braine who over the years I’ve admired from afar, his ability to work at Georgia Tech and also at Virginia Tech. He’s a fellow Pennsylvanian, growing up in Groves City, Pa., I grew up in Monaca, Pa., there’s a lot of similarities in our background, and Dave thank you very much for the work you’ve done here and we’ll be in contact for sure. Also, I had the great fortune this morning to speak with Dr. Homer Rice. Again, someone who during the time when I was at South Carolina, admired the program that he had put together. The Total Person Program and all the innovations that he had placed into college athletics. So I had a chance to speak with him this morning and he was very gracious and I look forward to meeting him. The other person I’d really like to recognize and really look forward to meeting too, is someone that President Clough talked about and that’s Bill Curry. I’ve had the good fortune to listening to Bill and being in the same college football press box that he and his group had been announcing from. He shares the passion that I have for college athletics. He’s a great ambassador for college athletics and specifically for Georgia Tech. I respect him the utmost. Someone asked me, as we moved forward in this process, you have Bill Curry and this guy from LSU, `what’s it like in that competition?’ I said, these are just like golf games, you are going to go out and do what you do best and play your game and try and shoot the lowest score. And in the end, if you are selected, that’s great. Just know that you did your best and I know that Bill did his best, and I look forward to having an opportunity to sit and speak with him.
“Specifically as we get into the time that I get here, and hopefully the rehab goes quick. I don’t want to comeback to Georgia Tech with any titanium crutches here, so it probably will be around the 1st of April, or late March, but I think the first thing that has to occur, is there needs to be, as with any new management staff, an evaluation and a learning process. That evaluation allows for the learning of the new kid on the block. There is a great staff in place here, very experienced, and very knowledgeable of what goes on here at Georgia Tech. And you need to have that local knowledge to be successful. Someone new coming in, has to be able to interject just a few ideas out of the box, and has to be able to look at things with a different eye, and I think I’m going to bring that to Georgia Tech. The other issues that we have to look at are academics. Georgia Tech has a proud history of creating leaders through education and we have to continue along that line. There is no substitute for that, that is mandated here at Georgia Tech and that is something that I am personally proud and one of the reasons that I was interested in this job. This institute creates not only great student-athletes, but great leaders. And as you go along the country, whatever field of business that you are in, it’s leaders that make the difference, and that’s what is important. We hope to be able to continue to turn out the leaders that currently are CEOs and COOs of major companies, the next generation are walking around this campus today. But we are a college athletic program and that we needs to be competitive and we need to strive for competitive excellence and bring in the student-athletes that will allow us to do that here on to our campus. That’s hard, that’s hard to do because there a lot of great choices for high school student-athletes coming out and making their choice to go to school, but much like real estate you look at the area where you are trying to find your student-athletes, and there’s no better place than the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. There is wonderful schools, and a wonderful sense of education in this state. I think many of the people that will grace our playing fields, and go to school here, are currently in high schools in the state of Georgia. It’s the coaches and administrators job that they consider and notice Georgia Tech as they make those decisions. College athletics is also a big business, there’s a lot of financial realities that go along with that. There are things that are thrust upon us, like bills much like anyone at home that we have no control over. We have to try and manage those resources and be good stewards of the resources that are contributed to us by our alums and the fans of Georgia Tech. We pledge that we will do that. We will move forward and look to evaluate all the areas that we spend resources in to make sure that we are getting the best bang for our buck. At the same time, knowing that costs are going to increase, we must go out and raise new sources of revenue that will also be a part of the evaluation process.
“I’m incredibly excited to be here, this is the challenge of a lifetime and part of what I’ve worked for over the 20 years and I can’t wait to get started. I can’t think of a better place to do it, than in Atlanta, Ga., and specifically, Georgia Tech.”
Is there any one thing that attracted you to Georgia Tech?
“I think that the leadership, President Clough and the search committee certainly painted a very good picture of Georgia Tech. Not one in rose colored glasses, I mean each institution has their own unique challenges that they face, but I thought that the straight forward nature of addressing the positives and the challenges here at Georgia Tech was very refreshing. Having been to Atlanta, a number of times, for events associated with that other conference, there are things that I knew about this area that really intrigued me. It’s a special place, there’s special people here and if I’m going to take the jump into being an Athletics Director at a BCS school, this is the place I want to do it.”
What are your main priorities coming in to the job?
“The main priorities are to be all inside that evaluation period. You must listen and understand the culture of the place that you work. I don’t think that’s different for anybody in this room that’s starting a new job, you must understand the culture and bring you skills set, and your experiences to that culture. There will be a lot of listening, a lot of phone calls, there will be a lot of questions asked by me over the first 60, 90, 120 days. I don’t know how long that will be. In just the time that I spent around the campus today, with the coaches and staff, there’s some real good people here, very good people, and we move forward and allow that management team to move the program into the next level and hopefully make it better.”
You were widely seen as the heir apparent at LSU, why leave LSU when you might have that job in a year or two, and could you see yourself going back there?
“Well I’ll answer the second question first, I work at Georgia Tech and I’m very happy to be here and this is the institution that gave me the opportunity be an Athletics Director, so no, I don’t see myself going back to LSU. But LSU allowed me to be in this position. It will always have a special place, because it gave me the opportunity to sit here today. Skip Bertman, who is the Director of Athletics, is a very good friend and a wonderful administrator. There’s a good staff of people there. Skip is enjoying life, enjoying life, I wouldn’t Frank Broyles category yet, but Skip is certainly enjoying. His health is good, things are going well at LSU and I think he will be there for a long time. He was very supportive, he understood that I came that five years ago with a specific job was to help him create an athletics department that worked within the university. To pull together a staff of people that made athletics administration run efficiently, and I did that. I can leave there now knowing that that was accomplished. Whenever you leave a job, if you can leave saying it was better that you were there, that’s all you can ask.”
Obviously, you were picked over a popular man in terms of the alumni here, what is going to be the challenge to you in order to galvanize that family?
“I need to do an awful lot of meeting of people. I mean there is not the name recognition with Dan Radakovich, that there is with Bill Curry. So that means that I have to work a little harder and going in and meeting the alums, the friends of the institution and letting them know what I’m about as an administrator and what my goals are for the coaches, student-athletes and the staff here. Bill can walk in and because of his presence on television, everybody knows who he is, and that’s certainly a great door opener. I’ll need to knock first.”
Since you were at South Carolina, you’re familiar with the territory, will that be a help to you?
“Well yes. When I was at the University of South Carolina from 1994-2000, there was an awful lot of interaction between the two schools, so I do understand the lay of the laid, and how Atlanta is the capital of the south. This is the hub of activity for all the things that go along, especially athletically in this part of the country. Yes very familiar and look forward to diving into that.”
Do you think the expectations of football has to be tempered at Georgia Tech?
“Well no. I think if you ask Coach [Chan] Gailey that answer would be no. There’s an expectation to do well in every sport that we have. But the ball is round, well actually in football it’s oblong, they bounce in different ways. It’s the preparation, the ability to go out and get the quality student-athlete and to compete. That is done and now we have to continue to move forward there and success will come from there. I’ve had the great good fortune of being around some really good coaches as I’ve gone through my athletic career. Nick Saban said it’s always a process, you can’t go from A to Z. You must stop at each letter of the alphabet, and that’s what it is. You might catch lightning in a bottle, but sustained success does not come without a process, and that’s what we’ll try to do. Make this a program with a solid foundation and many sports it’s already there, and with football, we’re well on our way.”
The president talked about bringing you in here and taking this program to the next level, what’s the next level?
“That’s a widely overused phrase, sorry to lend that cliché to this press conference. I don’t know what the next level is. You could be talking about the level of fund raising, where maybe that’s two or three more million dollars a year. You could be talking about the next level of graduation success, where you take it from its current rate of 68 to 85, or 80, that’s the next level. You could be talking about competitive excellence where you win championships. That next level is there, we’ll find it, identify it and we’ll get there.”
What role do you see yourself playing the NCAA Appeals?
“We haven’t talked about that yet, I don’t know what role, specifically, and I’ll play. Certainly there are people on this campus with much more familiarity with that process than I am. I’ve been able to ready some of the information and I will serve whatever role president Clough thinks is appropriate for me during that process.”
Did you seek this position or were you approached?
“I’ll tell you all that my surgery was on January 31st, and on February 1st as I was sitting on the couch in my living room, with Marcy on a business trip and the two boys at school, I get a phone call from Baker Parker, asking if I would be interested in moving forward in the Georgia Tech search. And I looked down at the swollen leg and the crutches, and said yes this is perfect timing, let’s go for it.”