Miami Gymnastics on the Horizon? Clemson’s Radakovich Named New Canes AD

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The ACC won’t start sponsoring gymnastics until the 2024 season, but it could add another member team even before that. The very man responsible for securing Clemson’s women’s gymnastics team, Dan Radakovich, is expected to be announced as the new athletic director at the University of Miami. 

While Miami has hired him to right the ship with its revenue sports, Radakovich has the vision to do much more than that. During his time at Clemson, he led the athletic department to one of its greatest periods of growth and success. Clemson has earned many accolades over the course of his nine years as athletic director, including two football national championships he considers to be the highlights of his career. Radakovich also shepherded the school’s addition of softball and saw the team win the ACC title and make its first NCAA tournament appearance in only its second season. As previously mentioned, he also secured the addition of both women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse for the future, with lacrosse beginning in the 2023 season and gymnastics in 2024. Finally, Radakovich put a fantastic cap on his time at Clemson, with a whopping eight sports making trips to the NCAA tournament in the 2020-2021 season. Due to his many accomplishments, he was named SportsBusiness Journal’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2017 and has been included on several instrumental committees regarding changes to NCAA competition and regulations. 

All those new sports did not come cheaply, either. Radakovich is a money man, overseeing the accumulation of more than $200 million in contributions to Clemson’s athletic-specific alumni donor program IPTAY. He was also a champion of the Cornerstone Partner Program, a group of high-value donors that funded over $80 million in athletic scholarships and numerous investments in other athletic improvements. Some of those investments include a new student-athlete academic center and a complete renovation of Littlejohn Coliseum, the arena where the gymnastics team will compete. From 2014 to 2020, Radakovich oversaw a massive athletic budget increase of $62 million. Such an increase would be more than enough to fund a gymnastics team and its facilities at Miami.

Miami will be a return home for Radakovich, as he began his athletic administrative career there in 1983 as the athletic business manager. He will have the opportunity to enact change and encourage growth there in the same way he did at Clemson, and what better way than to add a Canes gymnastics team? The ACC has already announced that they plan to sponsor gymnastics once the Tigers are added, but now that he’s at another ACC school, it seems likely that Radakovich will still want a piece of the milestone addition. He has a way with funds – and Miami is generally a well-funded school to start with – and he’s on a roll with adding new women’s teams to his institution. Additionally, we know he already champions the sport, as he and his committee heard many proposals from several different sports and chose gymnastics as one of their two priorities. It seems like a likely conclusion, particularly if both the gymnastics community and the Miami fanbase support the idea. 

It should be obvious to Radakovich, based on the reaction to the Clemson news, that the gymnastics community would absolutely support the idea. The more ACC teams, the better – making gymnastics a true Power 5 sport can only increase its visibility and legitimacy with the public at large, which in turn will increase opportunities for both fans and athletes to participate in gymnastics in their various ways. It’s a no-brainer, win-win kind of situation. 

Miami fans, though, might wonder why they should care about gymnastics. Well, you’d be surprised just how many reasons there are. The Canes are already poised for success in the sport, really. They already draw top talent in women’s sports, particularly in tennis and track and field – see NCAA singles finalist Estela Perez-Somarriba and U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers Michelle Atherley and Murielle Ahoure for all the evidence you need. Miami is also already all over the NIL game, making waves in just the six short months athletes have been allowed to capitalize on their platforms. Canes quarterback D’Eriq King pioneered the new landscape of opportunities for athletes, earning four deals in the first 11 days of eligibility and inking the first deal between a college athlete and a professional sports team, as he became the ambassador for the Florida Panthers, the NHL team located in nearby Sunrise. In general, Miami’s market for NIL is one of the largest, as Miami represents the 11th-largest metropolitan area in the country, per the 2020 census. If it were to add gymnastics, it would only fall behind four other teams in terms of market size: Long Island, UCLA, Northern Illinois, and George Washington. Of those, only UCLA has Power 5 funding behind it. Suffice it to say – Miami would be in a great position to recruit top gymnasts, both in terms of top-tier offerings at the school itself and athlete ability to capitalize on NIL. 

Miami fans are also known to be competitive, and a gymnastics program at the U would be in a uniquely competitive position. The Canes would have a built-in state rival already in the Gators, who would contribute to an electric fan atmosphere no matter which end of the state the meet were held in and would push the new team to come out strong right off the bat. Additionally, if Miami were able to put a team together before the ACC’s first year of gymnastics in 2024, the team would get in on the ground level with the rest of its conference-mates, helping to set the standard for years to come. The Canes once had a really strong athletic reputation, and hiring Radakovich means they’re dedicating themselves to being a force in athletics again. Joining Clemson in the inaugural year for ACC gymnastics would show that the university wants to continue building that brand and meeting the standard of other Power 5 conferences. 

Finally, with the parity as it stands now among soon-to-be-ACC teams, Miami would also likely be competitive for a conference championship in that first year, provided it gets started on recruiting athletes and staff quickly. 

With all of these factors, Miami is in a prime position to make the GymCanes a watchable, buzzworthy team that will garner fan support and athlete interest across the nation. Dan Radakovich is exactly the athletic director Miami fans and gym fans alike should want in this position to make this expansion happen, with his history of excellence, talent for fundraising, and support of the sport in recent years. ACC Gymnastics would be the largest expansion of the sport in collegiate history, and with two teams joining rather than just Clemson, 2024 would truly be a historic season to remember.

Article by Caroline Freeman

One thought on “Miami Gymnastics on the Horizon? Clemson’s Radakovich Named New Canes AD

  1. Pingback: Miami Gymnastics on the Horizon? Clemson’s Radakovich Named New Canes AD — The Gymternet | BangkitkhayraBlog

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