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by Matt Kupec

January 15, 2019

In the aftermath of Clemson’s very convincing victory over Alabama to clinch the national college football championship, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was rightfully basking in the success in his post-game remarks.  In a joyous, happy and jubilant ESPN interview, Coach Sweeney in his homespun and country way kept referring to his national champions as “little ‘ole Clemson” as he talked about the Tigers undefeated season to capture the national championship.

Coach Swinney has had an amazing ten-year run building the “little ‘ole Clemson” program into one of the top programs nationally and making an argument for the top spot over college football’s other powerhouse the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

The question we pose to our readers in this post “is Clemson really that small” as Dabo Swinney would like to make us believe?  We decided to investigate for ourselves.  We looked at all the Power 5 Conference teams (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big Twelve and Pac-12) to see where Clemson would fall in comparisons in four categories – town population, enrollment, fundraising success, and stadium capacity – to give us a little better insight I as to whether or not Clemson is indeed “little ‘ole Clemson.”

Here is what we found:

  • Population of its town. Clemson University is located in Clemson, SC.  The population of Clemson in 2017 was 19,617.  That is hard to believe but less than 20,000 live in the town and that is indeed the smallest town population of the 65 Power 5 Conference teams.  Here are the top 10 smallest  college towns:
  •           School (Smallest Town) Town Population
    1.         Clemson 16,649
    2.         Mississippi 23,639
    3.        Mississippi State 25,352
    4.        West Virginia 30,547
    5.        Washington St. 33,354
    6.        Penn State 42,430
    7.        Virginia Tech 44,563
    8.        Purdue 46,269
    9.        Virginia 48,019
    10.     Oklahoma State 49,829

    • Fundraising Totals
      . Clemson raised $103 million in 2018 which makes it the 12th lowest total of the 65 Power 5 Conference schools.  Here is the list of the schools that raised the least money during the year.Enrollment.  Clemson’s total student enrollment is 24,387 which makes Clemson the 19th smallest university in the 65 institutions of the Power 5 Conferences. Note that private schools comprise the list of the ten smallest colleges by enrollment.

       School (Smallest Enrollment) School Enrollment
      1.         Wake Forest 8,116
      2.         TCU 10,394
      3.        Notre Dame 12,607
      4.        Vanderbilt 12,824
      5.        Boston College 14,419
      6.        Stanford 16,430
      7.        Baylor 16,787
      8.        Duke 16,899
      9.        Miami (Florida) 17,331
      10.     Northwestern 21,208
              19.    Clemson 24,387


      • Stadium Capacity. Death Valley, the home of the Clemson Tigers, is the 16th largest home football stadium among the Power 5 Conference schools.  Here is a look at the ten small football stadiums.


         School (Smallest Capacity) Stadium Capacity
      1.         Wake Forest 31,500
      2.         Washington St. 35,117
      3.        Vanderbilt 39,790
      4.        Duke 40,000
      5.        Boston College 44,500
      6.        TCU 45,000
      7.        Baylor 45,140
      8.        Utah 45,634
      9.        Oregon State 45,674
      10.     Northwestern 49,256
      Clemson 81,500
      • Fundraising Totals. Clemson raised $103 million in 2018 which makes it the 12th lowest total of the 65 Power 5 Conference schools.  Here is the list of the schools that raised the least money during the year.
           School (Lowest Raised) Dollars Raised
    1.        Texas Tech $61,942,970
    2.        Baylor $77,897,353
    3.        Louisville $79,121,484
    4.        Mississippi State $80,588,263
    5.        Florida State $82,281,068
    6.        Washington State $85,127,782
    7.        Oklahoma State $85,240,499
    8.        Syracuse $91,899,037
    9.        TCU $95,566,316
    10.     Mississippi $97,649,808
             11    Tennessee $103,170,170
             12    Clemson $103,855,100



    • Final Thoughts. We will agree with Coach Swinney’s assessment about “little ‘ole Clemson!” being a small college town.   Clemson is the smallest college town of the 65 Power 5 conference schools.   Clemson’s enrollment and stadium capacity rank much higher among its division I power, a great testament to the drawing power of the Clemson Tigers, and an incredible feat for a town with less than 20,000 citizens.
  • About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience.  He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership.  He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit.  He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels.  During his career he set 19 season and career passing records.  Two of which still stand – most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB.  Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC.  Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.