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September 13, 2013
University of South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner laid out his complete facilities improvement plan at a meeting of the Board of Trustees' Intercollegiate Athletics Committee Friday morning and gave a state-of-the-department report highlighted by record highs in ticket sales and Gamecock Club memberships.
Tanner opened his remarks touting the efforts of his NCAA compliance staff and took the opportunity to get in a dig at some of his Southeastern Conference rivals.
"We are very, very happy with where we are with our compliance office in athletics," Tanner said. "Our compliance staff-to-student-athlete ratio puts us in the top ten in the country and demonstrates our commitment to integrity.
"Ninety-one percent of our violations last year were discovered by our own coaches and our staff. That's very impressive in light of some other news that has surfaced this week (regarding allegations of impropriety at Oklahoma State, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi State).
"I think Chris Rogers from our office and his staff do a heck of a job in trying to be proactive in taking care of all our coaches and student-athletes."
Moving on to gift-giving, Tanner mentioned several accomplishments worth bragging about. He noted that gift-giving in 2012 was $15,321,220, while in 2013 it has been $10,250,379, begging a simple question.
"You may ask the same question that I did...'Why was 2013 not as good as 2012?,'" Tanner said. "2012 was a big year for us in planned giving, and that pushed those numbers pretty high. Our goal for 2013 was 2013 was a little over seven million, and we exceeded that. Hopefully 2014 will be a big year as well. This staff does a terrific job of putting us in a position to enhance our opportunities for resources and facilities."
Tanner pointed out that the number of donors who have given more than $1,000 has increased significantly, to 207, where in years past it was barely half that, meaning no longer does the school rely on just a few big donors to drive the bus but instead can rely on a wide range of support.
Tanner said Gamecock Club membership now is at an all-time high, with 16,404 members.
"We've exceeded 16,000, so we're very happy about that," Tanner said. "We've climbed and increased our number, and that's a great thing."
From the ticket office, Tanner said 49,145 season tickets were sold in 2012 while in 2013, USC sold 51,967, an increase of 5.6 percent.
"We're very, very excited about the opportunities to increase our attendance. We sold out the North Carolina game and we're sold out for the Florida and Clemson games. The good news today is that the Vandy game should be sold out also.
"Kentucky later on in the season looks like it could be a sellout. We certainly hope our homecoming weekend with Mississippi State will put us in that category as well. So things have really gone well from a ticketing standpoint."
In facilities news, Tanner ran through all current and future projects one by one, giving specific updates on each individually.
"Most of these projects are probably in Phase One or a little bit further along," Tanner said.
Indoor practice facility. Cost: $14.5M Completion date: March 2015
New football practice fields. Cost: $3M Completion date: July 2014
Stadium plaza. Cost: $14M Completion date: August 2015
Field House indoor track facility. Cost: $5M Completion date: January 2016
Outdoor track facility. Cost: $10M Completion date: September 2015
Soccer building. Cost: $2.5M Completion date: January 2016
Tennis complex locker room addition. Cost: $995K Completion date: December 2014
Sand volleyball facility. Cost: $995K Completion date: November 2013
With the new tennis facility, the 2015 SEC tennis championship will be held in Columbia. Tanner also noted that this spring South Carolina will host the SEC Equestrian championship and the SEC softball championship.
"We weren't in the rotation to receive the softball tournament this year," Tanner said. "But one of the other schools that was scheduled to have it had an issue and I raised my hand that we have a facility that we'd love to bring all the member SEC institutions to."
Tanner said the sand volleyball fields were scheduled to be completed by now but a rainy summer delayed construction of the new fields adjacent to the soccer stadium.
"We're excited about our program with coach (Moritz) Moritz," Tanner said. "They've been working feverishly to give us an opportunity to practice a little bit in November. We will compete in the spring of 2014.
"We were the first SEC school to add sand volleyball, but they're coming fast. LSU will also compete this spring, and probably another three or four will be online in a hurry."
Tanner said with all the current projects, the athletic department's debt will be approximately $160 million.
"I feel very comfortable with that (number)," Tanner said. "The state limit is two-hundred million, and we're not interested in going above one-hundred-sixty million.
"Can we service (that debt)? I'm very comfortable that we can. We're in a very good place."
Tanner provided an update and some statistics about the new SEC Network in partnership with ESPN, which will debut on Thursday, Aug. 28, of next year showing the South Carolina-Texas A&M football game that will kick off the season.
The agreement between the SEC and ESPN is for the next 20 years and promises 1,000 live events to be broadcast per year, with 450 televised games and another 550 available digitally in high definition. Some 45 SEC football games will be shown, with another 100 men's basketball games and 60 women's basketball games.
Tanner went on to praise track and field coach Curtis Frye, who was recently inducted into the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame, and women's basketball coach Dawn Staley, who became just the 15th woman player to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last weekend. He noted that Staley is the third athlete or coach associated with USC to be a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, joining Frank McGuire and Alex English.
Tanner also praised Fry, USC men's and women's swimming and diving coach McGee Moody and men's basketball coach Frank Martin for their participation in the World University games over the summer.
Tanner closed noting that a plaque commemorating former football coach Rex Enright that was in the old Roundhouse athletic administration building will be moved to the new Rice Administration Building. He also said that talks have been underway about the possible construction of a USC athletic museum in conjunction with the school's Hall of Fame that could be located near Williams-Brice Stadium so fans could visit it on football Saturdays.
"We've had these discussions in our senior staff meetings," Tanner said. "I very much want to move forward with our own Hall of Fame. There's still some time ahead of us to get to that point. That is on our radar and is very important that if we have an opportunity to do that, we move forward."
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