CLEMSON — Even with spring football over, there is still plenty going on at Clemson. Senior writer Matt Connolly is ready to answer whatever questions you might have. You can submit your question for the “Question of the Day” here. Today’s question is about the men’s track program being reinstated.
Several Clemson fans have reached out on Twitter, either with a post or DM, to ask for more details about Clemson reinstating its men’s track and field and cross country programs.
The university announced last week that it will continue to sponsor men’s track and field and cross country moving forward.
The announcement was made about five months after Clemson originally decided that this would be the last season of men’s track and field and cross country due to Title IX issues and some financial difficulties relating to COVID-19.
Clemson men’s track and field athletes and female athletes at Clemson threatened lawsuits against the university in order to try and reinstate the programs, and a settlement was eventually reached.
As part of the settlement, Clemson agreed to pay more than $270,000 worth of legal fees to the attorneys representing the male and female athletes.
The settlement also states that Clemson female athletes will: receive improved dining options, be issued more apparel, be allowed to attend movies the night before meets and games the way the football team does, stay in hotels the night before meets and games the way the football program does, have access to the pool at Clemson’s indoor football facility for rehab and training, be allowed to fly to more away games the way the football program does and more.
Clemson also announced that it will be adding at least one women’s sport in order to stay Title IX compliant.
Some possible women’s sports that Clemson could consider adding include: lacrosse, equestrian, beach volleyball, gymnastics, fencing, field hockey and acrobatics and tumbling.
The cost to start up each would be different, depending on how much Clemson would have to invest in new facilities and how much the program could repurpose facilities that are already on campus and being used for other sports.
There are also scholarships Clemson will have to fund, as well as coaching salaries, recruiting expenses, travel expenses and more.
When adding up the cost to start the new program(s) with the cost it will take to continue running men’s track and field and cross country, it is approximately a $4-5 million commitment annually.
For reference, Clemson spent $14 million to build McWhorter Stadium — the home of Tigers softball. In its first full season in 2020, the softball program’s operational budget was about $1 million, which included salaries and recruiting expenses.
The good news for Clemson is that COVID didn’t hit the athletic department as hard as was originally feared thanks to pay cuts, hiring freezes and other cost-saving measures.
That’s part of the reason Clemson will be able to continue the men’s track and field and cross country programs while also starting at least one new women’s program.