Gamecock Success Week: Facility Enhancements
June 26, 2018
The saying, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back,” certainly applies to intercollegiate athletics. South Carolina continues to move forward in its mission to provide a championship caliber environment in all facets of the student-athlete experience by providing top-of-the-line facilities across all sports.
“We continue to make major investments in our facilities,” said Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “As we compete for conference and national championships, it is imperative to put our student-athletes in the best position possible for success. Quality facilities – whether for competition, practice, weight training, academics, nutrition or sleeping â€“ are significant in recruiting and maintaining excellence in our athletics programs.”
New construction and upgrades to existing facilities can be found throughout the athletics’ footprint on the South Carolina campus in Columbia. In the last six years, every sport in the Athletics Department has received a significant facility upgrade.
The most high-profile current construction is the Football Operations Center, located adjacent to the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility. The $50 million project is scheduled to be completed in December and is going to be a “game-changer,” according to head football coach Will Muschamp.
“The Football Operations Center is a ‘one-stop shop’ for our student-athletes and puts us at the forefront of facilities in college football,” said Muschamp. “This facility shows a commitment from the University, not only to our current players, but to all the future student-athletes that will represent the Gamecocks on the football field.”
“It’s 110,000 square feet and has all football-related activities under one roof,” notes Chief Operations Officer Kevin O’Connell. “From day one, Coach Muschamp has said this will be a place where you come to work. He has been involved in the process every step along the way.”
The Football Operations Center will feature a sports medicine suite, one of the country’s largest weight rooms, team and coaches’ locker rooms, equipment room, team film and meeting rooms, a dining facility, two nutrition stations, coaches’ and staff offices, and a dedicated recruiting area.
Located just to the west of the football practice facility is the Huskey/Dietrich Golf Practice Facility. Just a year old, the facility features over 400 yards of hitting space and three greens totaling 18,000 square feet, and provides the student-athletes something the golf programs have lacked â€“ an on-campus practice facility.
“It’s been a huge benefit for our program,” said women’s golf head coach Kalen Anderson. “It’s set up so efficiently for us, and it makes it so easy for our players to get to and from class. Having it here on campus saves a lot of time, which helps with academics as well as practice, and the space is so well utilized we can have very diverse practices.”
“Having something on campus is pretty much a necessity right now to compete at a high level in our sport,” added men’s golf coach Bill McDonald. “A lot of the top schools have on-campus practice facilities or golf courses. We needed this facility to level the playing field and help attract the high-level players.”
“The facility is very functional and provides practice opportunities for a wide variety of shots,” said Puggy Blackmon, Director of Golf Operations. “The new double green and wedge tees have fully defined an incredible scoring game area. We now have two par fours and four par threes for actual play.”
The outdoor facility really helped our recruiting this year.Curtis Frye, Track & Field Coach
The Sheila and Morris Cregger Outdoor Track opened last year for the Gamecocks’ track and field program and a renovated indoor track and field facility is scheduled to open this fall.
“The improvements to the outdoor facility have already begun to pay dividends, as we secured a top-five recruiting class in the country on the men’s side last fall,” said head track and field coach Curtis Frye. “With the indoor facility, there won’t be a track like ours on this side of the country. It will be one of the best in the world and we’re excited about what it can do for our program.”
Recent enhancements to the Colonial Life Arena include a state-of-the-art video scoreboard and new trophy cases so fans could get close to the men’s and women’s Final Four trophies as well as other basketball memorabilia. A portion of the 2017 women’s national championship floor will be displayed on the wall near the arena’s main entrance. Additionally, two trophy cases were built for the women to showcase their 2017 National Championship Trophy both outside the team offices and in the CLA.
Men’s basketball is getting a renovated locker room area in the practice facility at the Carolina Coliseum to compliment recent renovations in that area, while beach volleyball will have a new locker room and film room inside the spring sports training facility in the Athletics Village.
“To have the ability to meet as a team, watch video as a team, and to have a team lounge and a space to call their own is something that is going to propel this program,” said beach volleyball coach Moritz Moritz. “It definitely helps to have a little more comfort and a sanctuary to prepare mentally prior to practice or a match. It’s also a huge recruiting tool and continues to show the commitment that our athletics department and administration have for this program.”
Lastly, the indoor volleyball program will enjoy a new video scoreboard that has been installed at the Gamecocks’ competition facility for the upcoming season.
While many of the projects are geared towards the benefit of the student-athlete, South Carolina is intent on making improvements to enhance the fan experience as well.
“We are flipping the concession stands on the east side ground level of Williams-Brice Stadium for the 2018 season, so they open up to the east,” said O’Connell. “We believe this will relieve some congestion in the concourse and near the restrooms, improving the traffic flow for fans on that side of the stadium.”
Additionally, an 18-foot high Gamecock sculpture will be coming to the Heisman Plaza on the northwest corner outside Williams-Brice Stadium this fall.
“We believe this will be a gathering point for many of our fans and another great place for a photo opportunity, making the trip to Williams-Brice even more memorable,” said O’Connell.
“The leadership team at South Carolina has been outstanding,” added O’Connell. “Our Board of Trustees, University President Harris Pastides and Coach Tanner are committed to supporting a well-rounded athletics program. They want all of our programs to compete at a national level while playing in the best conference in the country. It’s understood that if you don’t provide the facilities and resources necessary to compete in the SEC, you won’t have sustained success. You can see the results of what’s happening with the emphasis we put on facilities.”