Celebrate Jaguar sports and the man behind them: Clint Bryant

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With the playoff rounds of college basketball coming up soon, this is a good time to salute the Augusta State University basketball team, its coaches and the ASU athletic director, Clint Bryant.

If you have a chance to watch any of the playoff games being played in Aiken or at the Christenberry Fieldhouse you will be in for a special treat. With five seniors in the starting lineup, this could be the best ASU team ever.

THIS IS AN ESPECIALLY good time to take note of Clint Bryant's impact on this community. It is so widespread and so profound that it needs to be both recognized and celebrated. If someone made a list of positive role models for young people to emulate here in the CSRA, Clint would be at the top the list. Let me explain.

Twenty-two years ago, Clint was recruited to be the basketball coach of the Augusta College Jaguars. His success in that position led to his elevation to the position of athletic director, where he supervises 11 athletic programs. A number of these teams have had such success that they have become recognized nationally.

But Coach Bryant is much more than just an excellent athletic director. He has worked closely with Sheriff Ronnie Strength in attacking the problems of gangs throughout Richmond County. He has also worked with many employers throughout the CSRA to help find employment opportunities for at-risk young men.

As vice president last year and president this year of the Kiwanis Club of Augusta, he helped turn around a civic club that had been in serious decline. Clint would be the first to admit that he was only part of a Kiwanis team that included, among others, Bo Bovard, Jim Jatho, Lowell Dorn, Tom Sutherland, John Bell and the late Rudy Bohler.

THIS CLUB, WHICH meets each Monday at St. Paul's River Room, is now the fastest growing Kiwanis Club in the region. With 16 new members within the past year, it may be the fastest-growing civic club in the CSRA.

Clint possesses a combination of self-confidence and humility which serves him well. He has a loving and supportive family. They help keep him straight by constantly kidding him. He is also a marvelous caregiver, showing great love and support in recent months for two Augustans facing serious health issues, Pat Sodomka and Boone Knox. Pat, who was Clint's next-door neighbor, died Feb. 19. I am sure Clint will provide strong support to Dennis Sodomka in the months and years ahead.

Clint has very strong feelings about the role of sports at the college and university level. He feels all students should make getting a first-class education their highest priority. The top goals of every student athlete should be graduating from college and becoming a productive citizen.

CLINT IS SADDENED by what has happened to Division I basketball in the past two decades. Winning is now the only thing, and big money has become a pervasive factor. He is committed to insuring that Augusta State University has an athletic program that all of us can be proud of---second only to the academic program at ASU.

Please check The Augusta Chronicle carefully the next week or two. There will be some great games to watch. Be sure to introduce yourself to Clint Bryant. At 6-foot-5 with a big smile on his face, Clint will be easy to spot. He will be hanging around the Jags' bench, before, during and after each game.

(The writer, a retired U.S. Air Force major general, serves on the board of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the Augusta Museum of History and the Kiwanis Club of Augusta. His e-mail address is genpsmith@aol.com.)

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Riverman1 02/28/10 - 12:04 pm
I like Clint Bryant, but I

I like Clint Bryant, but I don't agree with the inference that D-1 basketball is a bad thing. Matter of fact, I could be very critical here because I understand the history of D-1 at ASU, but it's not the place. It's simply not right to say success on the D-1 level is not conducive to a great college.

Augusta is big enough, has the athletes in the area, fans and potential private support to have a fabulous D-1 team. The 2007-08 team came within a hair of beating UGA on the road. UGA won the SEC conference tournament championship that year. We can do this and I'll refute negative assumptions that we can't.

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