COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced his retirement Thursday after leading the Tigers for 10 years, leaving behind a trail of new buildings and solid football coaching hires.
Phillips plans to stay around until a search for his replacement is finished. His contract expires in July 2013.
Phillips came to Clemson from Oklahoma State, where he hired Dallas Cowboys assistant Les Miles, now coach at LSU, to his first head coaching job. He also convinced Miles to hire current Cowboys coach Mike Gundy as his offensive coordinator.
At Clemson, he elevated a little known receivers coach named Dabo Swinney to be interim coach after Tommy Bowden agreed to leave mid-season in 2008, and gave Swinney the job permanently when he turned a 3-3 season into a 7-5 finish and a bowl appearance. Swinney rewarded the boss last season with the Tigers first Atlantic Coast Conference title in 20 years.
Phillips said he figures most people don't give him credit for what they've done, and that's probably right.
''Personally I'm very proud of the opportunity and the role I've played in their professional lives. I'm very proud of their success,'' Phillips said ''I'm very proud with what Dabo is doing.''
Phillips said Thursday it was time to leave and spend more time with his wife. But he still has work to do. He will consult with the search committee that will hunt for his replacement. He wanted to give the university plenty of time to find someone and make sure there was a smooth transition in leadership.
''I just feel good about where we are and it seemed to be the appropriate time to step away,'' Phillips said.
In Phillips' decade at Clemson, the school has won 13 Atlantic Coast Conference titles. Along with his decision to hire Swinney, he also chose men's basketball coaches Oliver Purnell and Brad Brownell. Purnell dragged the program up from the bottom of the ACC and Brownell has kept the success going.
Between Purnell and Brownell, the Tigers made four NCAA tournaments in a row for the first time in school history and have finished .500 or better in the ACC for an unprecedented five years in a row.
But women's basketball, which was a regular NCAA tournament team in the 1980s and 1990s, hasn't had a winning season in eight years. The baseball program still regularly makes the postseason, but bitter rival South Carolina has won two national titles. In fact, the Tigers dominance over the Gamecocks in most sports has started to slip in the past several seasons.
One of Phillips' biggest moves was spending $140 million on athletic facilities. Big money has been spent on every sport, including football, where a $65 million project brought luxury suites and major upgrades to locker rooms and the football offices. An indoor practice facility is under construction.
Football coach Dabo Swinney called Phillips ''a man with class, integrity and he has vision.'' He praised Phillips for helping his team through improvement of the facilities.
''He has given us a chance to compete at the highest level and has changed the playing field here,'' Swinney said. ''We just moved into a new dining facility in the West end zone and next year at this time we will be in a new indoor practice facility. They ought to name it after him.''
Phillips said he noticed the need for better buildings when he came to Clemson to interview for the job. He said he is proud the building boom is nearly finished with the school owing under $26 million in debt.
Grades have improved and Clemson has stayed out of NCAA trouble, too. The Tigers have not received an official letter of inquiry from the NCAA during Phillips' 10 years.
''Clemson is a better university because of Terry Don Phillips,'' university President James Barker said in a statement. ''His integrity, dedication and business insights have made Clemson's athletics programs stronger financially, academically and competitively.''
Phillips said an athletic director's most important job is getting the right people in the right place.
''I think that we've got good coaches in place. At the end of the day it's all about good personnel. You can have the best facilities in the world, but if you don't have good coaches, you aren't going to be able to achieve what you want to accomplish,'' Phillips said.
Phillips grew up in Texas, and was a defensive lineman for Arkansas in the late 1960s, leading the Razorbacks to two Sugar Bowls. He would later use his administrative skills as president of the fundraising club, Razorbacks Foundation, Inc., from 1988-91. The school put him in its Hall of Honor in 2010.
Phillips also served as athletic director at Liberty and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Phillips has spent just a decade with the ACC, but Commissioner John Swofford said he was one of the most respected athletic directors in the conference.
''He's not only a superb administrator but he's a good friend and valued colleague. He has meant and continues to mean a lot to all of us in the ACC,'' Swofford said.
Phillips and his family plan to retire in Clemson. He has promised his wife they will spend more time together. Beyond that, he still isn't sure what the future will bring.
''I probably in some fashion want to remain engaged in campus life,'' Phillips said. ''But I've got a wonderful wife. It's time we enjoy time together.''