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Miami just got its new, high-profile AD from Clemson to join Mario Cristobal

·6 min read

The University of Miami has its new athletic director, and he’s a big-time, highly respected administrator in the world of college sports — as well as a UM graduate.

Miami has lured Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, 63, who earned his UM master’s degree in business administration in 1982 and along his journey helped build and sustain the Tigers’ already strong athletics program from when he arrived in December 2012.

Radakovich is expected to be announced as UM’s AD on Thursday, two sources told the Miami Herald.

Radakovich will join newly hired UM football coach Mario Cristobal to form a powerful duo in college athletics.

Radakovich knows the UM culture and got his start in administration as the athletic business manager in 1983, the year UM won its first national title in football. He worked at UM in that capacity until 1985, when Jimmy Johnson was coach. Along the way, he has held athletic administrative jobs at five Division 1-A schools, including the six years before Clemson as athletic director at Georgia Tech.

In football, the root of UM’s sudden athletic-related changes, Radakovich has led a football powerhouse with three national titles, including in 2016 and 2018.

The Hurricanes are expected to be in very good hands with Radakovich (pronounced RadaKOvich) in charge of athletics. He had been earning an average of $809,000 annually at Clemson. Miami is a private school, but Sports Illustrated reported Friday night that UM was set to offer $3 million-plus to its “high-level Power 5 ADs with contract offers that would make them the highest paid in the industry.’’

‘Top-notch AD’

On Saturday, Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell was at UM for the Hurricanes’ ACC opener, which Miami won 80-75 after trailing most of the game. Brownell, who is in his 12th season at Clemson, said he hadn’t spoken to Radakovich about the Miami job, but that he has been instrumental in leading Clemson’s athletics success.

”He’s really helped the facilities,’’ Brownell said. “He’s done a lot of internal things within the department that have streamlined a lot of things to really run efficiently. He hires good people. He’s just a first-class, top-notch AD.

“He’s great, Brownell continued. “He doesn’t micromanage his coaches. He lets you do your job and asks you how he can help. But he’s not in your office every week telling you who to recruit and who to schedule and what to do. He lets his coaches coach and tries to serve in a way of mentoring and helping make sure you have the things you need to be successful.

“He’s got a great big picture of what universities need in athletic departments because he’s been doing it so long.’’

Sources inside UM told the Herald on Friday that Radakovich would be an excellent hire.

“He’s at the very top echelon of athletic directors,’’ said one source, who couldn’t give his name because of his position within the university. “Very intelligent, honest guy who not only can administer and not only runs top-level sports but is a great fundraiser.’’

Clemson reports on its website that more than $200 million was put into athletic facilities “in the past eight years to provide the best in performance opportunity and fan experience.”

Clemson’s lavish athletic facilities include the $55 million Allen Reeves Football Complex, a 142,000-square-foot building that is said to be over-the-top impressive and includes on the grounds a miniature golf course, barber shop, outdoor movie theater, full basketball court, shuffleboard court, arcade games, whiffle ball field and slide from one floor down to the next.

Clemson’s sports themselves aren’t lacking. Under his guidance, in addition to the football team being a power, Clemson’s baseball team has been in the national conversation for many years. Clemson’s ranking in the Graduation Success Rate and Academic Progress Rate has been among the national leaders.

Blake James

Miami’s former athletic director, James, was let go on Nov. 15 after being named the new AD on Feb. 8, 2013. He had returned to UM for the third time in 2010 after spending seven years at the University of Maine, the last five as athletic director.

James was highly criticized by fans and former players upset by the direction in which the football program had turned. But James was highly respected by other athletic administrators around the country, raised millions of dollars for UM athletics and helped spearhead the campaign that included important improvements to Miami’s athletic facilities — none bigger than the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility.

James also struck a 12-year contract with Adidas to replace Nike as UM’s apparel provider.

He was the athletic director who hired football coach Mark Richt and fired Al Golden. He also hired Manny Diaz on Dec. 30, 2018 within 10 hours of Richt resigning, without initiating a formal search, which ultimately contributed to his firing. Diaz was fired this past Monday.

UM has 16 men’s and women’s sports. The men’s program encompasses football, basketball, cross country, diving, tennis and track and field. The women’s program has basketball, tennis, volleyball, cross country, track and field, swimming and diving, soccer, golf and rowing.

National titles

The Hurricanes have won 21 team championships, though the two most recent ones came 20 years ago, and the university’s new hire will no doubt be expected to bring the program back to prominence with more hardware.

UM noted that during James’ tenure, Miami athletic teams won five NCAA individual championships, six ACC team titles and 71 individual ACC titles.

UM’s most high-profile program, football, won five national championship during its pinnacle period from 1983 through 2001. Football’s national titles came in 1983, 87, 89, 91 and 2001.

Baseball, which has also slipped in recent years, is another high-profile program that draws some of the top players in the nation and won national championships in 1982, 85, 99 and 01.

Women’s golf has won five titles, though the last was in 84. Swimming and diving won titles in 1975 and 76. The former men’s crew program won a title in 1988. And the long-defunct polo team won four titles from 1947-50.

Annual report

In its 2020-21 UM athletics annual report, the school cited “strong academic numbers” during the 20-21 academic year, citing an NCAA Graduation Success Rate at 94 percent, “four percent higher than the NCAA requirement.’’ UM also reported that 11 programs achieved perfect APR scores of 1,000 -- men’s and women’s basketball, women’s cross country, men’s diving, golf, rowing, soccer, women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis. women’s track and field and volleyball.

In fundraising, UM noted that “despite the pandemic [that] limited our ability to host many in-person events,’’ athletics raised “close to $9 million” in 2020-21.

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