Family is Key Ingredient in the Longs' Commitment to South Carolina
With his family’s consistent devotion to the University of South Carolina, it makes sense that Kenneth Long’s naming sponsorship is the Cyndi and Kenneth Long Family Football Operations Center. It’s also appropriate because the recently opened state-of-the-art facility is a place where today’s student-athletes and coaches can efficiently work in order to be a nationally elite program, and where tomorrow’s student-athletes can experience the commitment and vision for overall success, while also honoring the past generations of Gamecocks.
“There is a lot of family in our business,” Kenneth Long said. “A lot of people are responsible for us making that money that we were able to contribute, and that’s why we wanted it to be the Long Family center, and not just Ken and Cyndi Long. It’s pretty important to all of us.
“We made a donation that put our name on it, but trust me, that doesn’t pay for the whole building. There were a lot of people that donated a lot of money for that building, and we’re just fortunate that we’re the ones who got their name on it.”
“It wasn’t so much about having the name on the building, but we realized it was something the program was really going to need.”
– Kenneth Long
The 110,000-square foot facility provides the football program with a recruiting center, locker room, weight room, athletic training room, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms, dining room, equipment room and player lounges, along with a barbershop and a music recording studio; conveniently located adjacent to the new Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility and outdoor practice fields.
“The student-athletes response to it, and it being so pleasing to them is what I like,” Long said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to come there? It’s so well done. We’re so pleased with it.”
Kenneth Long grew up in Columbia and the South Carolina campus as his father’s drug store was near campus. With his father being a long-time Gamecock Club member, Kenneth grew up cheering for the Garnet and Black, and both he and Cyndi graduated from South Carolina, among many others in his family.
“My father was a 1955 graduate of the College of Pharmacy,” Long said. “Our business has been right here all those years, and he started taking me to Gamecock football and basketball games when I was around six years old. There was no question about where I was going to go to college, and where my older brother was going to go to college.
“We all graduated from the College of Pharmacy at South Carolina. My second daughter graduated from the College of Pharmacy there. My niece and nephew have graduated from the College of Pharmacy, and we all love the Gamecocks. The opportunity to help and having the ability to help, just felt like the right thing to do. We’ve supported the Pharmacy school as well along the way. A lot of my pleasure has been derived from being a Gamecock fan. We’ve had some great times.”
As the family business and relationships grew, the Longs consistently demonstrated their commitment to the further development of student-athletes and the University as a whole with assistance on a number of projects. Kenneth and Cyndi were honored at the 2015 Gamecock Gala with the prestigious Garnet Award, which symbolizes passion and devotion to Gamecock Athletics.
“We didn’t consider putting our name on anything at first,” Long said. “We did put our name on a gate when they did the Springs-Brooks Plaza around the (Williams-Brice) stadium. We had the chance to speak to Coach (Will) Muschamp about how important the Ops Building is and the role it will play for the University. We just felt like it was time to step up one more time, and big time! It wasn’t so much about having the name on the building, but we realized it was something the program was really going to need.
“We were really excited during the (Steve) Spurrier era with the football team. We were disappointed when that roll that we were on ended. After that, I could sense that there needed to be another big push in finances if we were going to climb the mountain again. We felt like this is what we were supposed to do.”
The Longs sold the family business in recent years, and Kenneth is proud of the legacy his family has created in Columbia and with the University.
“It was two full generations worth of work with the company, and we still have a third generation still working there,” Long said. “Our name will be on that Operations building forever. That’s pretty exciting!”
The Longs are already looking forward to the next football season, where they will be tailgating with family and friends in their Cock-a-boose near Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We entertain about 60 people there, and we make it an all-day affair!” Long said. “There’s nobody in the family that doesn’t enjoy that. So much has changed over the years around the stadium, and it’s all great. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”