The University of South Carolina announced Wednesday that it has hired its new head volleyball coach — Tom Mendoza, the head coach at High Point University.
Mendoza will take the reins of the Gamecocks from interim head coach Dottie Hampton, who took control of the program halfway through the past season after the abrupt firing of former coach Scott Swanson.
“I am excited to welcome Tom Mendoza to Gamecock Country. In researching candidates for our coaching position, one name kept coming up when talking with those in volleyball circles – Tom Mendoza,” said Director of Athletics Ray Tanner in a press release. “Tom is a teacher and strategist who has been successful in his coaching career recruiting and developing young volleyball players to become outstanding student-athletes. I’m am looking forward to the impact that Coach Mendoza will have on our volleyball program.”
Mendoza was the coach at High Point for one season, accumulating a 24-8 record and an NCAA tourney invite for the Panthers. Before that, he was the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Creighton for three years, serving as assistant coach for three seasons before that. In his six seasons with the Blue Jays, the team advanced to the NCAA tournament five times.
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“I want to thank Coach Tanner, Judy Van Horn, the Board of Trustees and the search committee for giving me the opportunity to coach at the University of South Carolina,” Mendoza said in a press release. “It’s easy to be excited about the potential and future of this program. It’s a phenomenal school, there’s a lot of talent already in the gym, we have very loyal fans and a great facility. We are going to work on being a harder team to play against and earn our success. I can’t wait to get working with the team and recruiting future Gamecocks.”
Mendoza’s contract with South Carolina runs for six years through the 2023 season and includes incentives for an SEC title, NCAA tournament berths and a top-25 ranking, among others.
South Carolina volleyball finished with a 12-18 record in 2017, its worst finish in four years. At the time of Swanson’s dismissal, the team was 9-6, with a 2-1 record in SEC play. Under Hampton, the squad finished with a 3-12 record, in second-to-last place in the conference. The Gamecocks never reached postseason play with Swanson at the helm, a goal Tanner said he believes Mendoza can accomplish.
“We feel very confident about (Mendoza’s) ability to coach, communicate and recruit at a high level in a program that we feel that should be NCAA-worthy, and we feel that we have missed those opportunities in the last few years,” Tanner said.