Eight days, one team, 8,000 fans.
That's the goal of head coach Frank Martin and the University of South Carolina basketball team, which today kicked-off it's "8K in 8 Days" initiative designed to reach 8,000 season-ticket holders for the Gamecocks men's basketball program.
At a press conference to launch the event that coincided - not coincidentally - with the release of the 2014-15 non-conference schedule, Martin said by putting himself and his team out in the public, he hopes the public will respond with support.
"We always ask our fans to come to us," Martin said. "We've got to find time to go to our fans.
"I think this is a great way to show that to our players, that there's a bigger duty that we all accept being an athlete here with the school, than just showing up and playing the games on the schedule. Going out in the community and trying to put yourself in a place where you can impact people in a positive way, where people can see us deeper than a coach or a player.
"That's a little bit more important than just shooting a ball or making a decision during a timeout."
Martin said he's excited to continue to grow the brand he's begun heading into his third season as head coach of the Gamecocks.
"We're all challenging each other," Martin said of the team and the university's marketing and sports information departments coming together to meet the 8,000 season-ticket holder goal. "We're continuing to build our program, and I can't tell you how excited I am with this initiative to try and get our season ticket-holders to at least 8,000.
"That's a number that hasn't been touched around here in a long time. When you take into consideration that (the program has had) four losing seasons and yet season-ticket sales last year went up more than everyone in the country with the exception of seven other schools says a lot about the excitement."
The events, as released by USC from today (July 22) until July 29, are as follows:
Tuesday, July 22
5:30-6:30 p.m. - Special Olympics event, Colonial Life Arena. Gamecock student-athletes will host Special Olympics for an event at the arena, which will include basketball activities.
Wednesday, July 23
1:45-2:30 p.m. - Richland County Sheriff's Department Stars of Tomorrow Camp
Burnside Elementary School (7300 Patterson Road, Columbia, S.C., 29209). Gamecock student-athletes will participate with campers in basketball drills and sign autographs.
Thursday, July 24
10-11:30 a.m. - Cocky's Reading Express at the Richland County Public Library (Assembly St. location). Gamecock student-athletes will spend time reading with children and Cocky at the library.
Friday, July 25
- 2-3 p.m. - Palmetto Children's Hospital visit. Gamecock student-athletes will visit with children at the Palmetto Children's Hospital.
Monday, July 28
3-4 p.m. - The entire team, along with Frank Martin, will hold an event for children at Fort Jackson
Tuesday, July 29
9:45 a.m. - Academy Sports + Outdoors' Back-To-School Donation event, new Harbison location