Barclay Radebaugh’s checkbook balance totaled $13. Thirteen dollars left to feed his wife and children. Thirteen dollars to pay a stack of bills.
“When you look at men in the Bible, God always used a desert time to prepare them for the things he had for them in the future,” said Radebaugh, the new head coach of the men’s basketball program at Charleston Southern University. “This was my desert time. Really, honestly, it was the hardest two years of my life.”
The events of 1994 marked a turning point in his life – and career. Radebaugh and his family lived the better part of two years on 110 percent faith and little income. With his funds depleting and his faith hanging in the balance, the doorbell rang.
“We had a gentleman come to our house; he owned a large construction company – he had never been to our house before and hasn’t been to our house since,” Radebaugh remembers. “He spent 15 minutes with us; we just hung out and talked. We walked him to his truck and said goodbye.
“We walked back in, and he had placed an envelope on our coffee table. In that envelope was $500. God met our needs in miraculous ways time after time after time. We never lacked for anything.”
Radebaugh’s life took a left turn in the spring of 1994. After four successful years leading the men’s basketball program at Furman University, head coach Butch Estes announced his resignation. Soon after, Radebaugh, the team’s assistant coach, and the remaining staff were unemployed.
With no job and no prospects, Barclay and Hope Radebaugh attended the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual coaches camp in the summer of 1994. On the final night of the conference, Hope, an accomplished vocalist, took the stage to perform. Before she sang, she shared her testimony with the 300 collegiate coaches, athletic administrators and their families.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” Radebaugh remembers. Little did they know, Hope’s emotional testimony and musical performance set off a chain reaction.
In the weeks after the conference, Radebaugh got a call from Art Baker from the University of South Carolina. “He said, ‘We have a position for you on campus here at USC,’” said Radebaugh. ‘You may not want it – it’s a graduate assistant’s job.’ Here I’d been a full-time Division I assistant coach and here’s a graduate assistant’s job. I said, ‘We’ll come look at it.’ I immediately knew God was pushing me toward that position.’”
Radebaugh accepted the job and began tutoring athletes. “Quite frankly, I went down there and was miserable,” remembers Radebaugh. “One day, in my quiet time, God reminded me that he had placed me in that position, and he wanted to use me in that position to draw student-athletes into a personal relationship with him. I said, ‘How? I hate it.’”
Radebaugh built a team of Christian tutors and began educating student-athletes, combining academic and biblical messages. “Every night, we had 200 student-athletes come into the academic center there,” remembers Radebaugh. “We started to see fruit from that labor every night. We started to see football, baseball, basketball, track and tennis student-athletes come to know Jesus.”
Still, Radebaugh yearned to coach again. After applying and searching for the right opportunity, he turned again to his faith for direction. “God, I am ready for my coaching position,” Radebaugh prayed.
“I started applying and looking around and couldn’t find a job, so the Lord laid it on my heart in June to go ask Eddie Fogler if I could volunteer on his staff,” said Radebaugh. “I said, ‘Lord, the last time I understood the word volunteer that meant without pay.’ God said, ‘Go volunteer, I’ll provide.’”
Radebaugh took another leap of faith and in the fall of 1996 he began working as a volunteer under Fogler. It was no easy task. His days were spent on the court as a volunteer and “I did all types of odd jobs on the weekends and at night,” he said. “I was a janitor part-time, anything I could get to feed my family, then God met the difference.”
For two years, Radebaugh remained steadfast. In February 1998, it paid off. Jeff Lebo, Fogler’s assistant coach, accepted a job as the head coach of Tennessee Tech. “He left at 11 on a Thursday afternoon in February, and Coach Fogler came in at 11:15 and offered me the job,” remembers Radebaugh. “So I went from an unpaid, volunteer assistant to a full-time assistant in the SEC for one of the greatest coaches. Only God can do that.
“Just to see God provide and allow us to have a position like that, it just totally changed our whole career,” Radebaugh continued. “God used that time to show me some things that I needed to change and some areas in my life that I needed to give to him, to surrender to him and allow him to use me and my position in the body of Christ – not to promote myself, but to promote him. That was a crucial two years in my life.”
Radebaugh, a 1987 graduate of East Tennessee State University, began his coaching career in 1986 as a student assistant coach and in 1989, at age 21, he landed his first paid coaching position as an assistant at Wofford College. One year later, when he accepted the assistant coaching position at Furman, Radebaugh became the youngest Division I assistant basketball coach in the country.
By the time he accepted the head coaching position at CSU, Radebaugh had 10 different coaching positions in 15 years including stints at Wofford (1989-1990), Furman University (1990-1994), University of South Carolina (1994-2001), Winthrop University (2001-2003), Queens University of Charlotte (2003-2004) and the University of Miami (2004-2005).
When former CSU coach Jim Platt announced his resignation last spring, Radebaugh moved in.
“There was just an excitement on campus,” Radebaugh recalls. “With the development of the science building, the growth of the campus – there was just a tremendous opportunity and challenge to build a first-class program in every aspect.
“To do that in an environment that allows you to put Jesus Christ first and to honor God, and for people across the country to see that we’re doing everything in a first-class way for the glory of God, sincerely attracted me to this opportunity.”