Clemson University men win NCAA conference title 2 years after losing track team

sprinters on track

In less than three years, the Clemson University men’s track team has gone from the threat of non-existence to winning the NCAA’s ACC conference championship. In late 2020, the South Carolina-based university announced plans to cut the men’s track and cross-country teams from its athletic program, but the school faced such an uproar of protest that school officials reinstated the squads. This all led to the men’s team win on Saturday, when they took home the title by a single point.

Saving Clemson track

The decision to cut the men’s cross-country and track teams came in November 2020, but it wasn’t set to become official until June 2021, following the end of the track season. The Clemson athletics department said the cuts were made due to budget constraints, forecasting that the school would lose $25 million due to the pandemic. Clemson officials said that of that $25 million, $2 million would have been due to the men’s track and cross-country teams (which was the most of all the sports at the school).

Clemson reversed its decision to cut the teams for several reasons: first, the financial hit that the school’s officials predicted turned out to be vastly inflated. Second, former collegiate athlete Russell Dinkins filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, noting that the majority of athletes impacted by these cuts would be Black. Dinkins said this violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits recipients of federal funding from being discriminated against on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Finally, a petition to save the track and cross teams received more than 30,000 signatures, solidifying the running community’s support of the athletes. In April 2021, just months after the school’s initial call to cut the teams, Clemson walked back its decision.

a fairytale ending

The 2023 track and field season was supposed to be the second without a Clemson Tigers men’s team, but instead, it’s the year that the Clemson men won the ACC title. They did so thanks to wins in the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays, the 400m and the 200m (both of which saw Clemson athletes finish in first and second). Clemson athletes also finished on the podium in the 110m hurdles and the hammer throw.

This is the first ACC outdoor title for the Clemson men since 2004 (the women’s team won more recently, taking the ACC titles in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015). The Tigers won the championship with a final score of 92 points to second-place Florida State’s 91.

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