How Anthony Hamilton Jr. Wants to Save Clemson Track and Field's Men's Program
Clemson University jumper Anthony Hamilton Jr. discusses some of the reaction to the athletic department's decision to cut the men's track and field program.
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Earlier this month, Clemson’s athletic department announced the decision to cut the men’s track and field and cross country programs after the 2020-21 academic year. Athletic director Dan Radakovich said it came as a measure that will save $2 million per year and would help other Olympic sports on campus survive. The men’s track and field/cross-country team features 51 athletes and has produced 22 Olympians and 16 NCAA titles since it was first offered up in 1953.
In the wake of the announcement, Sportico’s Eben Nov-Williams took a deep dive into Clemson’s budgeting and accounting to try and make sense of the move. A Change.org petition addressed to Radakovich now has more than 30,000 signatures to try and save the program. This past weekend, supporters protested on campus wearing shirts that said “Unity?”
One of the most outspoken athletes in the fight to save the team has been jumper Anthony Hamilton Jr. He might have the biggest following with more than 81K Instagram followers and 112.9K TikTok followers thanks to his insanely cool basketball dunks that have been featured on ESPN, House of Highlights, World Star Hip Hop and other mainstream sports social channels.
We spoke on Monday to discuss his reaction to the program getting cut, what conversations have taken place with members of the athletic department and more. You can listen to our entire conversation + some backstory into how he got involved in track and field just three years ago on the latest episode of The CITIUS MAG Podcast.
(The following are some excerpts from our conversation, which have been edited lightly for clarity.)
Where he was and his initial reaction to the announcement that men’s track and field was getting cut:
“The day that it happened it was really weird. It happened so fast. I got an email and it was from (Athletic Director) Dan [Radakovich] and it said emergency meeting. I knew it was serious when it said that if we had class we’ll give you an excuse. Come. You’re missing class. You’re missing tutoring. You’re going to come to this meeting. I was like OK. I called one of my female teammates and she didn’t get the same email as me. I’m like OK...now I start thinking I’m in trouble myself and thinking, ‘What did I do?’ We got up there and they sat us down in the volleyball gym where there was a podium set up. I kind of had an idea when I sat down. I had to really think about it and then, ‘I know what’s going on…’ He walked in and told us. When he said it, I was in shock. It was a ‘What?! Are you serious?’ type of thing. I knew what it was going to be when I saw our coaches walk in. They learned what happened an hour before they told us. He stressed the fact that they had been working on it for months…I was just frustrated, shocked and we just focused on what we were going to do to try and overturn this.”
On meeting with AD Dan Radakovich:
“I just want to sit down with no cameras, no audio and nothing to see how he really feels about it. I had a meeting with the assistant athletic director Graham Neff. He’s a really cool guy. We sat down for an hour and he broke everything down to me about why they did it, alternatives and stuff like that. He told me he’s there if I really needed anything...With Dan, it’s the same thing: how he feels about it and what can possibly be done to save it or what we need to do.”
What were the reasons given to you why and did they make sense to you?
“It did. Some parts did and some parts didn’t. The reasons why it made sense were backed by charts, numbers and all types of stuff like that. From a business perspective, I understood it. Previously, prior to me coming here, they had been stressing how we’re not a family that’s focused on the dollar signs. If you’re a Tiger then you’re a Tiger. We’re all family. We all work together and work hard. We have a combined 23 ACC championships, appearances at the national championships every year and we’re doing our job..I can’t really go too deep into detail about what we talked about but he told me they talked about cutting rosters on every team to do so. That wouldn’t have worked. They talked about adding a female team like beach volleyball and that didn’t work because they don’t have the funds for it obviously. I just wondered, ‘How? How do we not have the funds?’”
How do you instill hope among teammates and alums in the conversations that you’re having?
“When we’re talking about such a prestigious school, such a diverse program and such a successful program with Olympic athletes, it’s not only hurting us as athletes. It’s hurting these students that dream to come here, run and get out of their situations. We’re talking about the whole track community. Our sport is dying. It’s slowly dying. What I tried to explain to my team is that if they can move the Olympic Games – that’s been consistent for decades and centuries – that means our sport is in jeopardy...We’re fighting for the sport. I haven’t been in the sport for long but I’ve gained a love for it. I’m just trying to do all that I can to get this overturned if that’s a possibility. I just don’t like being told no at the end of the day. I’m going to try regardless.”
From the announcement: “In our long-term planning, we looked at the changing demographics of the Clemson campus. Of Clemson’s men’s sports, only men’s track and field and cross country could provide the Department with both substantial cost savings as well as the ability for long-term Title IX compliance.” A friend of mine later texted me saying that by his count he determined the following from Clemson’s men’s non-revenue sports: 20 Black track athletes, 8 Black soccer players, 2 Black baseball players, 1 Black cross country runner, 0 Black tennis players, 0 Black golfers. So that means 21 of 31 Black athletes in these sports have been cut with the elimination of men’s track and field and cross country. What’s your reaction to hearing those numbers?
“We actually have been giving out fact sheets and that number is actually 67% of non-revenue generating Black athletes. I just feel like that’s a big number to play with. It’s shocking to me. I feel like there are so many different ways that this could be handled even if this is a ‘future problem.’ It might not be a problem right now but with Title IX, they’re saying it’s going to be a future problem and they’re doing this right now. It could have been something that was progressively changing. They could have altered how we recruit or there are so many different ways they could've gone about this. When I see those numbers I think, ‘Well, we’re already a predominantly white institution. This is only going to add on to that.’ It’s giving less opportunity to a more diverse sport in the sports world – one of the most diverse sports ever created. It just hurts to see that.”
Click here to read and listen to more of my conversation with Anthony. You can catch the latest episode of the podcast on iTunes so subscribe and leave a five-star review. We are also on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify!
The Diamond League Announces Its 2021 Provisional Schedule
Mark your calendars! The 2021 Diamond League provisional schedule has been released and optimistically action returns in May. It would probably depend on how much the pandemic is under control in each respective country but I don’t foresee too many of these having fans in attendance early on. It’s hard to predict what may happen so far down the line but you’d think maybe some athletes would have received vaccines by then but the rollout around the world isn’t going to happen all at the same pace.
Keira D’Amato Sets An American Record
Just days after she appeared on the CITIUS MAG Podcast, Keira D’Amato set a new American record in the 10-mile run for a women’s-only race in 51:23 with her win at the Up Dawg Ten Miler. She absolutely smashed Janet Bawcom’s previous record of 52:12. D’Amato averaged 5:08 per mile. U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials runner-up Molly Seidel took second in 53:36. D’Amato is paying for much of the race out of her own pocket but you can help offset some of the costs by picking up some of the Up Dawg merchandise. In case you haven’t listened to the episode yet, she explains the joke behind the name of the race here.
Quick Hits and News
– More COVID dominoes begin to fall...The Big East has canceled its indoor conference championship, which was scheduled for Feb. 26-27 at the Gately Indoor Track and Field Facility in Chicago, Ill.
– Northern Arizona Elite’s Nick Hauger opens up about what it was like battling COVID and the recovery process he’s undergoing.
– Jenna Hutchins, a junior at What Science Hill High School (TN) became the first U.S. high school girl to break 16 minutes for a 5K cross country race with her 15:58.42 at the RunningLane XC National Championships. Her previous PR coming into the race was 16:25.
– Brigid Kosgei will follow up her London Marathon victory by racing in the Deli Half Marathon on Nov. 29. She will be up against world record holder Ababel Yeshaneh. In February’s RAK Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, Yeshaneh beat Kosgei by 18 seconds in 64:31.
– If you thought all spring marathons were going to be a wash, British Athletics has some news. There will be an Olympic Marathon Trials set up for British athletes that is modeled after the London Marathon bubble and the race will feature 30 men and 30 women.
– Salomon announced they will live stream Kilian Jornet’s 24-hour track run world record attempt. By the time you’re reading this on Wednesday, it should be underway. The current world record is 188.590 miles by Yiannis Kouros in 1997. That’s 7:38 per mile for 24 hours.
– It appears that after a brief return to the track, Lolo Jones will be opting not to attempt to make the 2021 U.S. Olympic team for Tokyo and instead try to go for a second Winter Olympic team in bobsled in 2022. Jones was named to the U.S. Bobsled women’s national team after competing at two team-trial races over the weekend. Jones made the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the 100-meter hurdles.
– At a low key meet, former NAU standout Luis Grijalva (who people forget ran 13:29.74 for 5,000m indoors back in February) beat Drew Hunter 7:42 to 7:44 in a 3,000m race that went down.
– Molly Seidel announced on Instagram that she will be running a 10K while wearing a turkey costume on Thanksgiving Day.
– Organizers for the 2022 World Athletics Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. unveiled their new branding in a video narrated by Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
– I have been a fan of Kurt Streeter’s work since he was at ESPN the Magazine and he’s been crushing it since joining the New York Times in January. Earlier this month, he wrote about Chris Nikic becoming the first person with Down syndrome to become an Ironman. This week, he wrote about running while being Black and having more hope than when he first explored the topic in a piece in May with input from readers.
MORE FROM THE CITIUS MAG PODCAST NETWORK
“Running communities are a reflection of American communities, and if we know that American communities have been shaped by racist real estate laws; racist criminal justice systems; racist police officers; racist, segregated schools…how can there not be racism in running?”
Emma Zimmerman chats with Ben Chan on Social Sport. Ben is an ultra runner and activist, perhaps best known in the New York running community for his racing attire—leopard print short-shorts and a cowboy hat. But in recent times, Ben has also become well known for his activism. In this episode, they focus on Ben’s exchanges with a certain, high-profile race director (Gary Cantrell AKA “Lazarus Lake”) who banned Black Lives Matter from his events.
It can be difficult to talk negatively about people who have large followings, lots of power, and have created events that are, frankly, important to the running community. But Ben and Emma both feel that we need to hold everyone accountable for their words and for the communities they create—in sports and beyond.
This episode was recorded about a week ago, and since that time, more exchanges have unfolded; “Lazarus Lake” shared his racist speech openly on a prominent podcast.
More shows from CITIUS MAG…
– Get to know Zack Beavin on Run Your Mouth, who ran the fourth-fastest U.S. all-time mark for 50 miles at the Tunnel Hill 50-miler. He ran 5:03:06 to shatter the course record and run the fastest off-road 50 miler on North American soil. He’s got some great personal bests on the road and competed at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. He also happens to be dating host David Melly so if they’ve got some solid chemistry on there, that’s why! Subscribe and listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify| Stitcher
– Jesse Squire welcomed Ken Goe to the Track and Field History Podcast to shed a little bit of insight into his 43 years of sportswriting for The Oregonian and covering track and field in the Pacific Northwest for a good chunk of that time.
– Dana Giordano has an upcoming episode of More Than Running coming later this week with graphic designer Katherine Burgess, who physically cut out men’s stories from the New York Times sports section’s front page throughout September to show just how little coverage was being dedicated to women’s sports. Subscribe so you don’t miss it when it comes out.
CITIUS MAG CROSSWORD NO. III
Got a few emails from readers last week saying that the second edition of the crossword was a bit more difficult than the first. Some people even came clean about having to Google or dig for the answers. Many thanks to reader Andrew Kane, who has volunteered to help me put this together each week!
Congratulations to last week’s giveaway winners: Max Elinson and Kristin Weisse.
This week, we’re going to give away two of the “im not a world class athlete” shirts that were inspired by Grant Holloway’s hilarious Twitter debate. (Or you can support us and buy one anyway!)
All you have to do is submit the following CITIUS MAG crossword puzzle back to me in an email to email@example.com. You can print it out and take a picture of it. You can fill it out on your computer if you know how to do that. I’ll pick two winners who send it back and I’ll contact them in a follow-up email.
Note: If the answer is a person, I’m looking for just their last name unless otherwise noted in the clue. I tried not to make this too difficult because I fully understand that not everyone obsesses over some stats and weird track tidbits like me. However, if you’re one of those nerds, power to you! Good luck!
2. Oldest turkey trot in America
3. President who ran 3:44:52 at the 1993 Houston Marathon
5. NFL player and US Long Jump Olympian
11. College attended by Keira D'Amato
13. Workout which translated from Swedish means "speed play"
14. Winner of the 1952 5k, 10k and marathon Olympic races
18. Men's and Women's SEC 2020 Cross Country Champions
19. River where you'll find Terriers, Huskies, and Crimson
20. Number of laps for a 3,000m on an indoor 200m track
21. School coached by Diljeet Taylor (Abbreviation)
1. New Balance athlete who holds the collegiate record in the 400m Hurdles
4. The man with the golden shoes at the Atlanta Olympics
6. Game of Thrones' Margaery Tyrell actor who broke 4 hours in the marathon
7. Men's winner of the 2020 JFK 50 Miler
8. Women's winner of the 2020 JFK 50 Miler
9. Winner of 17 Paralympic medals and 5 NYC Marathons
10. First High School Girl to break 16 minutes on a 5k cross country course
12. City hosting 2024 Olympic Games
15. Winner of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Decathlon
16. Long distance relay race from Japan
17. Won 19 Division III Cross Country National Championships as head coach
That’s it from me in the latest edition of the CITIUS MAG Newsletter. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Have a safe Thanksgiving!