May 29, 2015

Dabo Swinney explains why he isn’t attending the Palmetto Family Council event (UPDATED)

Dabo Swinney announced Tuesday that he will not be attending next week’s event being put on by the Palmetto Family Council. Sporting News received a written statement from Swinney on why he initially committed to attend, and why he ultimately decided to opt out of the event. [Read more…]

Former Clemson hoops coach Bill Foster dies

Bill Foster, 79,  who guided Clemson to the Elite Eight of the 1980 NCAA Tournament in the school’s first NCAA invitation, passed away on Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C. after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

The native of Hemingway, S.C. is the only coach to serve as the head coach of three current Atlantic Coast Conference institutions (Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech) and is one of the few coaches in NCAA history to have multiple 20-win seasons at four different schools.

Born on April 1, 1936, Foster was a head coach at the college level for 30 years at five institutions, and compiled a record of 532-325.  He had 21 winning seasons and 11 seasons with at least 20 victories.  He coached Clemson and Virginia Tech to the NCAA Tournament and had a 4-2 record in NCAA Tournament games for his career.

A noted program builder, he started the basketball program at the Division I level at Charlotte and restarted the University of Miami program after a 15-year absence in 1985.

He was also known for his ability to take big men, many of whom were lightly recruited, and make them into star players.   His coaching helped turn Cornbread Maxwell (UNC Charlotte), Tree Rollins, Larry Nance and Horace Grant (Clemson) and Ace Custis (Virginia Tech) into players with long professional careers.  Maxwell, Rollins, Nance and Grant were all NBA first-round draft choices.

Foster actually began his coaching career while he was a senior at Carson Newman College in Tennessee.  In his final year as a cum laude student, he coached the Carson Newman freshman team to a 19-1 record. Foster became the head coach at Marion (S.C.) High School in 1959 and led that program to a 42-21 record in three years.

From Marion High, Foster became head basketball coach and Director of Athletics at Shorter College in Rome, Ga.  He coached the NAIA program to a 110-31 record in five years, and won at least 22 games each of his last four seasons. He earned berths in the district playoffs each of his last three years.   Foster was named Georgia Intercollegiate Coach of the Year in 1965 and 1966, was the Area NAIA Coach of the Year in 1965, and was one of five finalists for national NAIA Coach of the Year in 1965.

After five seasons at Shorter, he took a post as assistant coach at The Citadel in 1967 and remained with the Charleston, S.C. based military school for two seasons.

Following his tenure at The Citadel, Foster took on the challenge of bringing the UNC Charlotte program to the Division I level.  In just five years under Foster’s guidance, Charlotte (the school’s name today) had an 87-39 record, including a 46-7 record over the last two seasons.  He also held the post of Director of Athletics for his final two years.

Foster became the head coach at Clemson in April of 1975 and he held the position until the end of the 1983-84 season. Despite inheriting a program on a three-year probation, he registered a record of 156-106.  The 156 victories still rank second in Clemson history.

In the six years Clemson was eligible, he took the Tigers to postseason play four times, three NITs and one NCAA.  He still holds the Clemson record for wins over Top 20 teams in a career with 16 and in a season with six (1979-80).

In his fourth year, the first year he could take a Clemson team to postseason play, the Tigers were selected for the NIT.  In a game that would have been an NCAA Tournament matchup by today’s standards, Clemson upset a 19-win Kentucky team in Rupp Arena in front of a then NIT record crowd of over 23,522 people.

In 1979-80, Foster guided Clemson to its first NCAA Tournament appearance and the Tigers became one of the Cinderella Teams that year.   During the regular season Clemson defeated five top 20 teams, including No. 1 ranked Duke, the school’s first win over the top ranked team.  A still record crowd of 13,863 watched that win over Duke in Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers defeated Utah State, Brigham Young (12th ranked led by Danny Ainge) and Lamar to reach the Elite Eight of the 1980 NCAA Tournament before losing to UCLA in the West Regional final in Arizona.  It is still the only season Clemson has reached the Elite Eight.

Foster left Clemson in 1984 to restart the University of Miami (Florida) basketball program.  He spent the 1984-85 season developing the program.  The Hurricanes began competition in 1985-86. Foster posted a 78-71 record with Miami (FL), including a 19-win season in 1988-89. The victory total included an 87-86 victory over defending NCAA Champion Kansas.

Foster spent the 199-91 season in broadcasting, but his desire to return to the sidelines and help build the careers of young men brought him out of retirement and to the head coaching position at Virginia Tech.

In the six seasons between 1991-97, Foster led the Hokies to a 101-78 record.  During that time Foster coached Virginia Tech to a 25-10 record in 1994-95 and the school won the NIT for just the second time in history.  The 25 wins are still tied for the most in school history.

The following year, Foster coached the Hokies to a 23-6 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual National Champion Kentucky.  That team’s .791 winning percentage is still the best by any Virginia Tech team since 1973.

On New Year’s Eve 1995, Foster gained his 500th career victory, a triumph over Wright State in a game played in New Orleans.

Foster retired after the 1996-97 season. In his retirement years he was honored by many institutions.  In 2001, he was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame.  In 2005 he received the Bobby Roberts Award from the Augusta Sports Council for his lifetime contributions to basketball.  In 2007 he was inducted into the Shorter College Hall of Fame.

Foster was a 1958 graduate of Carson Newman. He earned a Masters degree from the University of Tennessee in 1961.

He is survived by his wife Linda, daughters Leslie and Laura and many grandchildren.

COMMENTARY: Dabo Swinney should avoid Palmetto Family Council appearance (UPDATE: He’s pulled out)

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney should politely back out of his scheduled appearance at a Palmetto Family Council fundraiser next week. Sure, he’s well within his rights to show up there and advocate for whatever he wants, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. He’s wading into the waters of a charged equal rights debate, and more than a few people would argue that he’s supporting a group that is on the wrong side. Regardless of what Swinney’s personal beliefs are, his appearance at a fundraiser for an organization with an agenda that has been called anti-LBGT  is not a good look for him or Clemson.

Here’s a headline in the USA Today that everyone staying in a Holiday Inn Express in America is reading in the lobby today:


Is that the kind of headline you want to see the Clemson brand in?

The point has been made that USC athletics director Ray Tanner was also honored by this group, and no one said a word. When Tanner was recognized is unclear. But it happened and no one noticed. Not even House democrat Todd Rutherford, the guy who first questioned Swinney’s appearance next week, who admitted he was unaware of Tanner’s ties to the group.

According to the promotion of that event, Tanner was recognized for his charity work. Maybe he didn’t think much about the group and it’s mission it when he accepted. That doesn’t justify it, but not many people had heard of this outfit until Rutherford’s statement last week. According to its Facebook page, the Palmetto Family Council, “will be honoring Coach Dabo Swinney for his example and contribution to strong Christian and family values in our state.”  Swinney  very well might not have been aware of the organizations LBGT stance. Only he can answer that question. A lot of Clemson fans are upset that Tanner got a pass and now Swinney is getting heat locally and nationally.  Rutherford responded to the fans that accused him of  making this an issue for the sole purpose of taking a shot at Dabo Swinney and Clemson. He made it clear that this isn’t a Garnet and Black vs Orange and White issue.

I get the gripe that Tanner didn’t get equal heat, but I don’t think it was because of a bias. I  think it was because, again, until recently, not many people knew a thing about this group. Now they do.  The fact Tanner was there previously shouldn’t give Swinney a free pass to attend. And that means Swinney has a decision make. If he goes to the event next week he will be viewed, fair or not, as someone who endorsing and anti-LBGT mission.

Based on Swinney’s past comments, I don’t take him as an anti-LBGT guy.  Sure, Swinney has never been shy about wearing his faith on his sleeve, but he’s also made it clear he doesn’t believe in discriminating against people who are different. Here’s what he said to the Charleston Post and Courier last year about Michael Sam and gay football players.

 “I think everybody has to be who they are. It would be very unfair for me, if I have a gay player on my team, to tell him, ‘Well, you can’t be gay.’ Just like it’d be unfair for him to tell me, ‘Well, you can’t be a Christian.’ You have to respect one another.”

Helping a group that wants to deny rights to the LBGT community goes against the “respect for one another” aspect of that quote and it’s not something that I think Swinney and Clemson stand for.

That’s why Swinney should decline to attend the event next week.


Dabo Swinney announced Tuesday afternoon that he would NOT be attending the event next week in Columbia.

Tigers talk hitting the road to begin the road to Omaha (AUDIO)

Clemson ace Matthew Crownover will start Friday

Clemson ace Matthew Crownover will start Friday

As the last team invited to the NCAA Baseball Tournament, the odds of Clemson reaching Omaha for the College World Series next month are long.  But, any team can get their with a minimum of five wins over the next two weeks, and the Tigers are as confident as anyone due to their one-two punch of Matthew Crownover and Zack Erwin on the mound and their ability to score runs.

Clemson goes into the tournament as a three seed and will face Arizona State Friday at 6:00 PM Eastern in Fullerton, CA.  Cal State Fullerton is the top seed and Pepperdine is the 4th seed.  The winner of the Fullerton Regional will face off with the winner from the Louisville Regional in the super regional round.

After getting the good news of their inclusion in the tournament Monday afternoon, Tiger coach Jack Leggett and several players discussed their team and the tournament with the media.

AUDIO: Jack Leggett [6:40]

AUDIO: Matthew Crownover [3:33]

AUDIO: Reed Rohlman [4:46]

USC fails to make cut at NCAA Women’s Golf Championships

USC logoNo. 2 South Carolina’s run at the NCAA Championships ended two strokes outside of the 15 advancing teams after resuming the third round of the event on Monday morning at The Concession Golf Club. The Gamecocks entered the day in 13th place and finished as many as five holes upon returning to the course at 7:30 a.m., but fell just short after going 9-over in the final holes. South Carolina’s three-round total of 932 (308-322-302) was 68-over par and placed 17th overall.

Senior Justine Dreher and sophomore Katelyn Dambaugh are two of nine individuals not on an advancing team to move on to the fourth and final round of stroke play later this afternoon. The pair is tied for 24th after finishing 54 holes at 10-over. Alabama’s Emma Talley holds the top spot on the leaderboard at even-par. The individual champion will be determined in the final round of stroke play this afternoon.

Dreher resumed the day on the green at No. 5 and went 1-under over her final five holes of the round with a birdie on No. 8. The senior finished the third round at 2-over (74), moving to 10-over for the tournament. Dambaugh had three holes to play this morning. She struggled out of the gate, carding a double bogey on her first hole of the day before righting the ship with two pars to close out the round. Dambaugh also posted a 2-over 74 for the third round.

Sophomore Jia Xin Yang wrapped up her NCAA Championships debut at 14-over par (230) after going 2-over in her final round. Yang also had some difficultly this morning, going 3-over in her final three holes.

Junior Mary Fran Hillow quadruple bogeyed her first hole of the morning and bogeyed her final hole to finish the round at 9-over (81). Hillow tied for 123rd at 35-over (251). Sarah Schmelzel was the only Gamecock to finish the third round last night before darkness suspended play, turning in an 80 (+8), her best round of the tournament. The junior posted a 255 (+39) for the weekend (128).


T24. Katelyn Dambaugh 70-82-74=226 (+10)

T24. Justine Dreher 76-76-74=226 (+10)

T45. Jia Xin Yang 79-77-74=230 (+14)

T123. Mary Fran Hillow 83-87-81=251 (+35)

128. Sarah Schmelzel 85-90-80=255 (+39)



1. Duke 293-309-292=894 (+30)

2. Southern Cal 297-303-298=898 (+34)

3. Arizona 300-311-294=905 (+41)

T4. Tennessee 301-309-300=910 (+46)

T4. Baylor 297-307-306=910 (+46)

6. Purdue 307-302-302=911 (+47)

7. Stanford 293-323-296=912 (+48)

8. Washington 301-316-297=914 (+50)

9. UC Davis 305-304-306=915 (+51)

10. Northwestern 310-301-305=916 (+52)

11. Arkansas 310-306-303=919 (+55)

12. Texas Tech 319-294-307=920 (+56)

T13. Wake Forest 310-320-297=927 (+63)

T13. Alabama 310-307-310=927 (+63)

15. UCLA 319-318-293=930 (+66)


16. UNLV 305-324-302=931 (+67)

17. South Carolina 308-322-302=932 (+68)

18. Texas A&M 309-312-312=933 (+69)

19. Tulane 314-309-312=935 (+71)

T20. Virginia 309-319-310=938 (+74)

T20. LSU 309-316-313=938 (+74)

22. NC State 317-323-302=942 (+78)

23. Campbell 315-311-324=950 (+86)

24. California 321-320-312=953 (+89)