Gamecock Men's Soccer Joins Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt will be the third conference affiliation in program history
NEW ORLEANS – The South Carolina men’s soccer team is joining the Sun Belt Conference, the conference announced on Wednesday.
Director of Athletics Ray Tanner said he was excited about the Gamecocks’ move to the Sun Belt.
“We are excited to join the Sun Belt Conference in men’s soccer,” Tanner said. “We think this decision gives our team a competitive schedule, regional travel advantages and opportunity for our program to be successful on a national level. We are excited the direction Coach Annan is taking the program and look forward to this transition.”
Nine teams will comprise Sun Belt Conference men’s soccer; three of the new Sun Belt members (as of July 1) James Madison, Marshall, and Old Dominion will join Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State. In addition, Kentucky, South Carolina, and West Virginia will compete as affiliate members for men’s soccer only. The Sun Belt Conference previously sponsored men’s soccer from 1976-1995 and 2014-20.
“These elite programs will lend instant credibility and help establish the Sun Belt as one of the nation’s premier men’s collegiate soccer conferences,” said Commissioner Keith Gill. “They each bring their unique traditions and histories of excellence. We welcome them and look forward to a bright future on the pitch.”
The Sun Belt Conference men’s soccer membership will boast some of the sport’s most accomplished programs. The nine teams have combined for more than 100 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances.
Head Coach Tony Annan said he thinks the conference gives his program a platform to have success.
“It also provides us with a very competitive regional schedule and travel weighs heavily on the team when you play two games per week,” Annan said. “These things have to be taken into consideration about the welfare of the players and the time that gets taken away from school. To have a league that is competitive and in our region, it’s a plus. The teams that are in the conference brings competitiveness, which we feel is great for our program and aligns with the direction we want our program to go in.”
The Gamecocks had competed in Conference USA since 2005. They also played in the Metro Conference in 1993 and 1994 but were independent before and after its Metro Conference affiliation.
With the announcement of the conference affiliation comes with it the announcement of the conference schedule.
The Gamecocks will have conference home matches against Georgia Southern, Marshall, James Madison and Kentucky. Carolina will make trips to West Virginia, Coastal Carolina, Old Dominion and Georgia State.
A full conference slate is listed below and times are to be announced.
September 24 – vs. Georgia Southern
October 1 – at West Virginia
October 8 – vs. Marshall
October 15 – at Coastal Carolina
October 19 – at Old Dominion
October 23 – vs. James Madison
October 28 – at Georgia State
November 1 – vs. Kentucky