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April 22, 2015


COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina Athletics announced today a significant gift from Morris and Sheila Cregger to the women’s basketball program. The gift fully endows a women’s basketball scholarship honoring graduating senior Aleighsa Welch while also contributing to women’s basketball program and facility enhancement.

“Morris and Sheila are a special part of Gamecock Athletics,” Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. “Their gift will give Coach [Dawn] Staley and her program the opportunity to continue to compete at the highest level.”

The Creggers live in Columbia and are long-time supporters of Gamecock Athletics. Sheila is a 1978 graduate of the University. Their gift marks the first fully endowed scholarship for women’s basketball.

“A gift this generous from the Creggers could not be given in a better name than Aleighsa Welch,” South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley said. “She is the ultimate teammate who is constantly willing to sacrifice herself for the betterment of the team and still finds a way to shine when the spotlight is brightest or the team needs her most. Her leadership on the court and in the classroom have shaped our program into one that can compete with the best night-in and night-out.”

The 22nd pick overall in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Welch closed her college career as one of just four Gamecocks all-time to record at least 1,000 points and 900 rebounds in her career. The three-time All-SEC selection was the 2015 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a WBCA Honorable Mention All-America for the second-straight season. As the only Gamecock to record at least 100 offensive rebounds in each of her four seasons, Welch’s 449 career offensive rebounds is a program record, and her .577 field goal percentage ranks second in program history.

“I am grateful to the Creggers and the University to be recognized in this way,” Welch said. “Four years ago, I never imagined that I would cap off my career at the University of South Carolina in this way, but it feels fitting to say that my college career has been `the gift that keeps on giving.’ I hope this helps open the door for more female student-athletes to build their futures on hard work, character and leadership, which extends far beyond their athletic abilities on the court. I’m blessed to be in this position, and my heart will forever be with this program. There are not enough ways to say `thank you’ to show my appreciation for this great honor.”

South Carolina finished the 2014-15 season ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches Polls, the highest final ranking in program history. Advancing to the program’s first NCAA Final Four, the Gamecocks won a school-record 34 games and posted a program-best .919 winning percentage.