University of South Carolina Gamecocks announces official partnership with MLS as official education sponsor
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South Carolina announces official partnership with MLS

The University of South Carolina is the official education sponsor now of Major League Soccer, the university announced Wednesday morning.

South Carolina announced a “multi-year” partnership with the fast-growing sports league in one of the bigger partnerships ever at South Carolina, dealing in large part with online education for the entire University of South Carolina system.

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

“It’s incredibly exciting to partner with a brand like Major League Soccer and also take the University of South Carolina brand and introduce it to a whole new audience. This isn’t just a partnership with the University of South Carolina Columbia,” Senior Associate Provost Dr. Diana Hill Mitchell said.

“They have a partnership with the system. All of our programs throughout our four-year institutions in Aiken, Beaufort and Upstate as well as Columbia will all be offered online together. It’s a really unique opportunity because we are the first and largest university system in the country to offer such a coordinated effort for online education.”

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The partnership will not only provide MLS players, both current and former, with access to online learning through the new Carolina Online initiative but give South Carolina faculty and students a chance to work with the MLS in an official capacity.

Students and faculty will be able to work with the MLS as part of their courses and there will be internship opportunities as well along with a guest speaker slate where MLS officials speak with sport and entertainment management students.

Mitchell also said there will be University of South Carolina and Carolina Online advertising along the field-level LED boards at games and on the MLS website along with more at the MLS All Star game and MLS Cup, the league’s championship.

“It’s something that’s going to benefit our faculty as well as our students,” Mitchell said. “The other reason they’re a great partner is because as Carolina Online tries to enter the online education space—a space that already has a number of institutions that are quite successful there—we felt like we needed a really strong partner to make our debut. MLS is the cornerstone of our partnership and one of many we hope to have in the future.”

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The cornerstone of this partnership is Carolina Online, which launched in early April, as South Carolina’s big foray into the online education world.

It was a big piece of university president Bob Caslen’s plan when he took over with the goal for South Carolina to reach as many people as possible online.

"He’s extremely interested in increasing access for South Carolinians as well as people in the region and in the nation. MLS is an attractive partner for us because it’s a brand that’s very forward-thinking, is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. and has a lot of young people who are currently among its fan base and demographic.”

Mitchell said the university doesn’t want to preclude anyone from getting a chance to earn a degree and said Carolina Online will be extremely advantageous for people who can’t go back in person to get a degree.

She also said it’s a great opportunity for military members in the state as well who want to go back to school online.

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“We really see this not just as someone coming in, signing up and going to their classes,” Mitchell said, “but really we have a meaningful relationship and engagement with them so that individual is successful.”

For more information about Carolina Online visit carolinaonline.sc.edu.