Miami has hired Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich to the same position, the school announced on Thursday. The hire of Radakovich, 63, is the latest in a series of big swings aimed at rebuilding Miami's athletic department back to prominence.
Radakovich, who was named Sports Business Daily's Athletic Director of the Year in 2017, has served as athletic director at Clemson since 2012, which coincides with the Tigers transforming into a national football power. The athletic department has grown to unprecedented levels under Radakovich's watch as Dabo Swinney led the program to national championships in 2016 and 2018 among six straight College Football Playoff appearances from 2015-20.
"I am so grateful to President Frenk and the University's Board of Trustees for this incredible opportunity," said Radakovich. "Their commitment to Miami Athletics' comprehensive pursuit of excellence and championships is what brought me back to Miami. As a unified Hurricane family -- students, alumni, donors, and fans -- there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. We are going to set the bar high and jump over it."
Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reports that Miami plans to make Radakovich one of the highest-paid athletic directors in the sport with a deal that could near $3 million annually. His current deal at Clemson paid him closer to $800,000 per year. The big swing is a massive indicator that university president Julio Frenk and other movers and shakers in the university are serious about investing significantly into the football program.
"This is a significant moment for the future of athletics at the University of Miami," said school president Julio Frenk. "Dan is one of the most highly regarded athletics directors in the country. He knows Miami well, from his time at the U and at Clemson, an ACC peer. His proven success, and the success that Dan has helped enable for student-athletes in the classroom and in competition, is reflective of our values. He has the experience, the relationships, and the passion it takes to ignite and sustain excellence—the very core of our bold vision for the future of Hurricanes Athletics."
Radakovich replaces Blake James, who was abruptly fired as Hurricanes athletic director in November, a decision which portended massive changes that were on the horizon. In the last month since, Miami has fired head football coach Manny Diaz and poached Mario Cristobal from Oregon to return to his alma mater with a massive contract. Now, Miami has hired Radakovich to lead the way and transform its athletic department in the way he transformed Clemson.
"There is a unique opportunity at Miami, with the tremendous changes happening across our city and South Florida, to build something truly special," said David Epstein, chair of the athletics committee of the Board of Trustees. "We sought out a proven leader who is aspirational, entrepreneurial, and visionary, and who will build a world-class athletics program at the U. Dan is that leader. His hire, and the extraordinary hire of Mario Cristobal as our next football head coach, puts Miami on a trajectory unmatched by any athletics program in the country."
Losing Radakovich to a conference rival is a bitter pill for Clemson, which suddenly finds itself in a difficult situation after a down year. While Swinney remains in place, defensive coordinator Brent Venables departed after a decade to become the coach at Oklahoma. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has also been mentioned as a contender for many jobs, including Virginia and Duke. The Tigers went 9-3 in 2021, their worst record by winning percentage since 2011.
Miami went 70-44 in James' nine years as athletic director, including 21-15 under Diaz. However, the Hurricanes have still not won an ACC championship since entering the league in 2004, much less sniffed a return to national prominence. Miami has finished unranked in 12 of its 18 seasons in the ACC without a single top-10 finish.