Clemson Athletics Legend Barbara Kennedy-Dixon Passes
CLEMSON, S.C. – Former Clemson women’s basketball and Clemson athletics legend Barbara Kennedy-Dixon passed away Monday morning after battling cancer. She was 58 years old. Kennedy was a two-time All-American, a three-time First Team All-ACC selection and a two-time ACC Tournament MVP during her four-year playing career at Clemson, from 1978-82. She went on to serve the Clemson Athletic Department as an administrator or in a coaching role for 31 years. Kennedy-Dixon was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Clemson Ring of Honor in 2000.
Kennedy’s accomplishments on the basketball court are still recognized today, as many of her records still stand, not only in Clemson and ACC record books, but also nationally. Nearly forty years later, she still holds the Clemson and ACC records for career points (3,113) and career rebounds (1,252), as well as career field goals made (1,349) and attempted (2,688). She is also known for scoring the first-ever points in the inaugural NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, when the Lady Tigers played Penn State on March 12, 1982.
She also holds the Clemson and ACC single-season records for points (908), points per game (29.3), field goals made (392), field goal attempts (760), rebounds (400) and rebounds per game (12.9), all achieved during the 1981-82 season. Her 392 field goals made is still the NCAA record in that category, while her 908 points and 29.3 scoring average are ranked 11th and 14th, respectively, in those categories.
Kennedy earned All-America honors in 1981 and 1982, and was a three-time First Team All-ACC selection, in 1980, 1981 and 1982. She was also named the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player two times in her career, in 1981 and 1982. She was a member of the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002 and was honored as Clemson women’s basketball’s ACC Legend in 2005.
Following her time as a student-athlete, Kennedy-Dixon served the Clemson Athletic Department in several different roles for over 31 years. She spent time on the women’s basketball staff as an assistant coach and director of operations, and also worked as an assistant in the compliance department and academic services. From 2005-14, Kennedy-Dixon served as Clemson’s Senior Woman Administrator, and most recently, was Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Academic Services from 2014-17, before retiring in July of 2017. Even after her retirement, she continued to assist the Athletic Academic Services department in several areas, including with the Tiger Trust program.
Service arrangements will be communicated as soon as they become available.
QUOTES ON BARBARA KENNEDY-DIXON
Quote from Clemson Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich:
“All of us in the Clemson Athletics family are saddened by the news of Barbara’s passing. She was such a beacon of light to all those who came in contact with her. Positive always and the consummate professional, we will miss Barbara and her engaging way. We all wish her peace after her courageous battle.”
Quote from former Clemson Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jim Davis:
“The Clemson Country Gentleman was created as a way to pay homage to the Clemson cadets who represented all that was good about them…character, honesty, caring, loyalty, etc. Barbara was the personification of The Clemson Lady. She not only was the greatest player, but more importantly, she was the greatest role model for hundreds of young ladies who became “her girls.” She provided a wonderful example of how to live life to the fullest. She mentored them and taught them life lessons. They knew her story of overcoming, persevering, loving and succeeding. She was a part of their hearts and will always be. Barbara Kennedy-Dixon was a Clemson Lady!”
Quote from ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
“Barbara was a tremendous person, and she will forever be part of the fabric of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Her talents were many, especially as a giant in the sport of women’s basketball and then as an administrator. What I will always remember about Barbara was her passion for Clemson University, her faith and most importantly, her family. Our thoughts and prayers will remain with her entire family, especially Marvin, Jalen and Jasmine.”
Quote from ACC Senior Associate Commissioner for Women’s Basketball Nora Lynn Finch:
“During my career, I have met many wonderful people and great athletes, but none more memorable or beloved than Barbara. She was one of the most outstanding athletes in ACC history, but her character, faith in Jesus Christ, and love for others were traits that distinguished her and that left an indelible impression on all who were privileged to be around her. I am abundantly blessed to have known her and thankful that she was my friend.”
Quote from Clemson Women’s Basketball Head Coach Amanda Butler:
“The Clemson family has lost a legend, an inspiration and a true winner with the passing of Barbara Kennedy-Dixon. Barbara was a tremendous example of what success looks like in all walks of life so, while we mourn her loss, we also celebrate a life well lived. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family as we know that she will be deeply missed.”
Quote from Senior Associate Athletics Director for Sports Administration/Senior Woman Administrator Stephanie Ellison-Johnson:
“Barbara Kennedy Dixon was my mentor, but she was also so much more. I have been incredibly blessed by her wisdom and guidance. Barbara, who was SWA at the time, was one of my biggest supporters and always told me that I would succeed her in the SWA role someday. Since that day she provided me with countless opportunities to learn from her and share her knowledge, including passing on her three-ring binders. While it’s impossible to fill her shoes, I don’t feel like I’m doing this alone because she is always with me, walking side by side with me, in this role.”
Quote from former Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips:
“I have never worked with anyone better than Barbara Kennedy-Dixon. Barbara cared deeply about others, more so than anyone I’ve ever known. She was a great staff member and friend, and she passionately loved Clemson. We’ve lost a great and loving member of the Clemson Family.”
Quote from former Clemson Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs Bill D’Andrea:
“Barbara is truly the best, most decorated female athlete that has ever come through Clemson. Not only was she an incredible basketball player, but she’s simply an incredible person. I knew Barbara from the time she came to Clemson as a player, and I also had the privilege of working alongside her as a colleague. For nine years, she worked as the student-athletes’ advisor in Vickery Hall, and she had such a significant impact on her students. Barbara was, first of all, a strong woman of faith. She was also a supportive and valued friend. Her life was about serving others, and she truly lived a life of faith, family and friends. The entire Clemson Family will miss her smile, her personality and her laugh.”
Quote from former Clemson track & field and women’s basketball student-athlete Jamine Moton:
“When I first came to Clemson, it was my first time ever being away from home, and Barbara was so supportive and caring. She was like a mother to me, and she was also a friend and a confidant. And, it was not just me. She meant so much to our entire team, and to every student-athlete that had the pleasure of interacting with her. Her impact on me is something so powerful; she makes me want to be a better person, and I am a better person because I knew her.”
Quote from former Clemson women’s basketball student-athlete & Director of Operations Kanetra Queen:
“Barbara was the epitome of love manifested. She had a unique way of making a large room feel smaller. The way she encountered each individual without the slightest difference in enthusiasm, interest and authenticity; a true angel on Earth. Her passion motivated many, but inspired even more. Her faith was relentless as she battled life’s most difficult obstacles. We are all forever changed, and for that, better having known her.”
Clemson Athletics contributed to this article.