Terry Don Phillips plans to retire

Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips will retire at or before the end of his contract, which runs until July 2013, the school announced on Thursday.

Clemson president James F. Barker said a national search for a replacement will be launched this fall, and the goal is to have a successor named by the time Phillips' contract ends so there is no need to appoint an interim AD.

Phillips, who has spent the past 10 years in Death Valley, had previously briefed Barker and the board of trustees about his plans. He and Barker will address the media at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday.

"As I am now in the final year of my contract, I have decided to publicly announce my retirement plans, so that President Barker can have as much time and flexibility as is needed to conduct a search and ensure a smooth transition in leadership," Phillips said in a prepared statement. "I'm very proud of what we have accomplished at Clemson, and I believe the future for the athletics program is bright."

There has been speculation recently that this announcement was coming soon for Phillips, who had said he would not seek a contract extension this year.

Clemson's athletic department has made headlines recently for its finances, as it has invested more than $140 million in facilities and paid top dollar to hire and retain offensive coordinator Chad Morris and defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Clemson has managed to stay out of the news, though, for NCAA-related issues, as it has not received one letter of inquiry during Phillips' tenure.

Since Phillips was hired in 2002 from Oklahoma State, Clemson's athletic teams have had 57 top 25 finishes, 13 ACC championships and 77 winning seasons and the football team has been to a bowl game every year.

Academically, Clemson had a record 2.99 GPA overall by student-athletes for the spring semester of 2012. On average, 53 percent of Clemson student-athletes have had at least a 3.0 GPA over the past 10 years. Each of the top seven overall GPA semesters has taken place in the past 10 years.

"Clemson is a better university because of Terry Don Phillips," Barker said. "His integrity, dedication and business insights have made Clemson's athletics programs stronger financially, academically and competitively.

"Under his leadership, I believe Clemson has established a model athletics program -- one that is characterized by full compliance, success on the field of competition and recognition that student-athletes are students first. I have asked Terry Don to continue as athletic director until we have his replacement."