From The Desk Of Eric Hyman
May 16, 2008
If you weren’t there, I hope you have had a chance to view (via the web link on gamecocksonline.com – click HERE to see it for free) the press conference last Saturday in which Dawn Staley was introduced as South Carolina’s new women’s basketball coach. Dawn is a very modest person in spite of having achieved more success than anyone can imagine. Since she will never tell you these things unless you twist her arm, I want to share what made her such an incredible hire.
To me, one of the greatest accomplishments you can achieve is to carry the American flag at the Olympic games, because the Olympians themselves decide who they want to represent our country with this honor at the opening ceremonies. Dawn Staley was chosen to carry our country’s flag in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. That alone should tell you a lot about our new head coach. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist athlete, will serve as an assistant coach in the 2008 Olympics, and will be a strong candidate to be the head coach in 2012.
En route to her coaching career, which began at Temple University in her hometown of Philadelphia, she was named national player of the year in high school, was a two-time collegiate national player of the year at Virginia and an all-star in the WNBA. These are just the highlights of her basketball career, which of course included many other awards.
At Temple, she did the impossible and took a small program without a lot of funds and turned it into a national program, taking her team to six NCAA Tournament berths. She compiled a coaching record of 172-80 in eight seasons for the Owls.
But as impressive as her basketball success is, she is also a winner off the court. In her hometown of Philadelphia and around the country, Coach Staley is known as much for her philanthropy as her basketball prowess. Beginning in 2007, the WNBA annually presents the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award to the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives. Staley heads the Dawn Staley Foundation, which is aimed at giving inner-city children positive input by sponsoring after-school programs, a three-hour focus on academics and athletics at the Hank Gathers Recreations Center, as well as summer leagues and fundraising activities.
In 2005, Staley was presented with Philadelphia’s prestigious Wanamaker Award, presented annually to the athlete, team or organization that has done the most to reflect credit upon Philadelphia and to the team or sport in which they excel. She is the only woman to ever win the award and is just the third individual to win the award twice. Staley received the Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award in 2007, an honor that is bestowed annually by the Rotary Club of Tulsa to the male and female athlete who has excelled in both his/her sport and in service to others.
We talked to some high-caliber people for our coaching position, but when it was all said and done, she was the best person for the job. There is a price for excellence. Here at the University of South Carolina we want to have excellence. We want to be great, not good.
I couldn’t be more excited to have a person like Dawn Staley represent the University of South Carolina. She is a wonderful role model for young women, not only at the University of South Carolina and in Columbia, but for the entire state of South Carolina and for that matter, around the world as she is known on an international level.
I hope you will welcome Dawn and her new staff into the Gamecock family with open arms.
The Game is On!
April 30, 2008
I just wanted to drop you a quick note to give you a progress report on the new baseball stadium. We held a “media day” at the site of the new stadium today and it was very exciting to see the project coming together and the hard work of many coming to fruition. I know the process has taken a lot longer than anyone would have hoped, but when it’s all said and done, we will have a first-class collegiate baseball facility that is second to none in the country and one in which all Gamecock fans can be proud.
At this point, the construction crew has completed approximately 34 percent of the project and they remain on time in terms of completion. Many of the light poles have been erected and the stands are beginning to take shape. In addition, the adjacent building that will house the coaches’ offices, home team locker room, indoor batting tunnels, athletics training room and weight room, is well underway. The field construction is scheduled to begin on May 15 with sod installation for the field set to take place around July 1. Anywhere from 125 to 250 construction workers are on site on any given day. The goal is to have the field ready for fall practice on September 1.
When it’s completed, I believe this facility will not only be great for the players and coaches who deserve to play in a state-of-the-art facility, but will also be a great enjoyment for our fans for many years to come. Gamecock fans will be able to experience baseball like never before in Columbia, and we are all excited about that.
To give you a sneak preview of the new facility, the athletics department will be providing free bus shuttles from Sarge Frye Field to the new stadium site on Saturday, May 17 from 2-4:30 p.m., prior to the Tennessee game. This will allow our fans to see the new facility as it takes shape. In addition, we will be adding a video camera on site in the near future so that fans can follow the construction progress of the stadium on a daily basis on our official athletics department Web site.
Thank you for your continued support of Gamecock Athletics.
The Game is On!
April 15, 2008
I am writing to introduce you to our new head basketball coach, Darrin Horn. Let me begin by sharing with you that Coach Horn didn’t need any convincing that coaching at the University of South Carolina was a great job. He was immediately excited about the opportunity and understood our commitment to the program and our expectation to battle for championships.
He understood that we have one of the finest arenas in the country, the Colonial Center, which could be filled with up to 18,000 of the most passionate fans in the country, as well as excellent practice facilities. He understood and was enticed by our significant facilities renovation and enhancement program throughout our athletic venues, which will not only help him train and support our current players but will also help him recruit the highest caliber of student-athletes.
At the beginning of this process, I communicated to you that we would be talking to current and former players, former coaches and coaches from around the country, University officials and fans, to determine the kind of coach that could lead us to victory for a long time to come. We said we’d be looking for an enthusiastic and energetic head coach with proven abilities and a record- a coach, who wanted to be here, who believed in us and who was committed to help us battle for championships. Coach Darrin Horn has met every one of these criteria and more.
During his five years as head coach at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, Coach Horn averaged better than 20 wins per season, twice leading WKU to the National Invitation Tournament. And of course this year Horn took his team all of the way to the sweet sixteen. Based on his background, 35-year-old Horn was ranked 14th on the Basketball Times’ list of “40 Up-and-Coming Coaches” entering the 2007-08 campaign.
In addition to his head coaching position at Western Kentucky, Horn brings experience from his roles assistant coaching and recruiting at Marquette and Morehead State. As a former player, Horn has added perspective of what it means to be a team player and what it takes to win. During his time playing at Western Kentucky, Horn helped lead his team to four consecutive 20-win seasons, two Sun Belt Conference championships and a pair of SBC Tournament titles.
Coach Horn just arrived today at South Carolina. In that short time he has already met with players, the media and begun calling on recruits. In fact, he has made it clear to me that for the remaining hours until the NCAA recruiting deadline, this will be his focus.
An important ingredient in a coach is the relationship he has with his players. This is an important factor in determining future success. I want to share with you how Coach Horn’s players feel about him.
“Coach Horn will be a star,” Western guard Tyrone Brazelton said. “He’ll be going to Final Fours. He can really coach but understands how to treat people. He treats his players like his sons.”
“I love Coach Horn,” WKU guard Courtney Lee said. “He made me a better player and better person. He taught me how to be accountable. He’s done everything he promised he would do when he recruited me.”
I hope that you will join me in welcoming him to our Gamecock Family. In the near future there will be opportunities for you to meet our new, young and motivated coach. Together we can build a successful program and battle for championships.
The Game Is On…Eric Hyman
PS–We are offering you an opporunity to get in on the action early. During the month of April, an upper level men’s basketball season ticket is only $149. Click HERE to buy now!
February 18, 2008
At 3 p.m. Friday, former Gamecock great Kip Bouknight will throw out the ceremonial first pitch beginning our 2008 baseball season. Like you, I am disappointed that we are not opening this season in our new ballpark, but I am excited about this year’s team. Coach Ray Tanner has his program ready to compete for championships again this year, and they need and deserve our support.
While we’ve begun making great progress on our new, state-of-the-art stadium, the focus now needs to be helping our team make this season, our last season at “The Sarge,” a great final chapter in its legacy. Lets help them give every team that comes here to play a final memory of “Sarge” that they won’t soon forget — and we’ll remember forever.
In the coming weeks, we will be giving you more information about the new stadium. I encourage all of Gamecock Nation, in the meantime, to log onto gamecocksonline.com and view the latest photos from the construction site. A webcam will also be available soon, allowing you to watch live progress from your computer.
Now for one last go around.
The Game is On at “The Sarge!”
January 31, 2008
In the days following Dave Odom’s retirement announcement, there has been much speculation inside and outside of Gamecock Nation about who will become the next head coach of the University of South Carolina men’s basketball program.
While this is a recent development for the University, and we are at the earliest stages of our search, I would like to assure you of a few things. Whoever takes over as our next head coach will know that we aspire to be a nationally prominent program that competes for championships. The new coach will also know that he has the full support of the University to lead us to our goals against all doubts.
Our next men’s basketball coach will know that we have one of the finest arenas in the country, the Colonial Center, which can be packed with up to 18,000 fans, giving us a tremendous home court advantage. He will know that he has use of an excellent practice facility already in place. He will also know that we are implementing a significant facilities renovation and enhancement program throughout our athletic venues, including a new academic enrichment center and a state-of-the-art sports medicine area, which will help him recruit the best and the brightest student-athletes. He will know that he is competing in one of the top basketball conferences in the country, the SEC.
And finally, he will feel confident knowing that he will be getting the unlimited potential of the most dedicated and passionate fans in America.
On Friday I will speak to the Board of Trustees and to the media for the first time in response to Coach Odom’ s retirement announcement, and I will share with them what I have already shared with you – that we are committed to finding a great coach to lead us where we want to go, and at the same time we will continue to support our current Gamecock basketball team and cheer them on through the rest of the season.
Please understand that, while I won’ t have much more to say until we are much further along in the process or have a new coach to announce, I appreciate your continued support of Gamecock Athletics.
January 1, 2008
Let me be the first to wish you and your family a happy, healthy new year. I don’ t know about you, but I can’ t wait for 2008 to get started. It will be a year of exciting changes for athletics at the University of South Carolina and Gamecock Nation.
Most importantly, 2008 will be the year we begin to change our culture and our destiny. It will be the year we settle for nothing less than battling for championships in all sports. And, the year we ask more of ourselves, our coaches and our student-athletes.
We had many successes in 2007: Fifty-one Gamecock student-athletes made the SEC Honor Roll — more than any other school in the conference. Twelve of our programs reached postseason play. Over 200 of our student-athletes provided thousands of hours of cumulative community service across the Midlands. Our football program received national coverage, including five televised games on ESPN. But it’s not nearly enough.
No one will forget the excitement of a 6-1 record, a #6 ranking, and being discussed in the national conversation. And no one will forget the terrible disappointment of a five game losing streak and staying home for the holidays. We don’t ever want to be home for New Year’s again.
We can and will expect to contend for SEC championships and top bowl games in football each year. We will expect both our men’s and women’s basketball programs to be in the NCAA tournament every year. And we will expect to send our baseball team to the NCAA tournament. The same goes for all of our other sports.
We have realized some of these goals before, and we will set our sights even higher this year. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing with you the vision for the future of athletics at the University of South Carolina and the plan to succeed. Together, we will make the next generation of Gamecock Athletics something special to experience.
Happy New Year!
The Game is On!