Athletics directors from Class 4A and 5A got the approval to look into the possibility of moving the state football championships away from Williams-Brice Stadium.
The motion was voted on in each classification’s meeting at the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association conference, which concluded Wednesday in Charleston.
“I think there is a possibility it will still be at USC, but it is 50-50,” Irmo football coach and athletics director Reggie Kennedy said. “I think the commissioner will sit down with USC people, talk to coach (Will) Muschamp and see if something can’t be worked out.”
Kennedy and Lexington football coach/athletics director Josh Stepp said the biggest reason the schools are considering changing locations is costs. Stepp said Lexington was able to make money during its run to the Class 4A, Division II championship game, but it helped to cut costs with a short distance to travel.
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“It is just the different fees stacked on top of each other. We just want to be cost effective and finding out what is best for everyone,” Stepp said. “The kids want to play there but we’ve got to look at how we are best maximizing our revenue for everyone involved.”
Williams-Brice Stadium has been the site of the Class 3A and 4A championship games since 1997, except for 2008 and 2011 when Clemson was the host. After the games were at Clemson in 2008, at the Columbia Sports Council’s request, Columbia City Council agreed to commit $30,000 of Columbia’s hospitality-tax revenues, toward the cost of hosting the championships.
Kennedy said venues to be considered are South Carolina State, Benedict, Clemson, Coastal Carolina and high schools such as Spring Valley, Byrnes and Dorman. Benedict has been the site of the Class A and 2A state championships in recent years, and it appears that will be the case next year. The school doesn’t charge to host games, but keeps the money generated from parking.
Marlboro County football coach and athletics director Dean Boyd said Class 4A will wait and see what happens with 5A schools. If a suitable agreement hasn’t been reached with USC or another facility, there’s a chance the 4A championship game can be rotated between the site of the Upper and Lower state champion each year.
Gilbert coach Chad Leaphart said Class 3A athletic directors didn’t discuss but likely will do whatever Class 4 or 5A does.
The South Carolina High School League’s executive committee will have final say and will vote on moving the games if a proposal is brought before them.
While the football championship games might be moving, the basketball state championships will remain at Colonial Life Arena, with two games being added to Friday’s schedule because of the state going to five classifications next year. The Class A and 4A games will be played Friday with Class 2A, 3A and 5A held the following day.
The same format will be held the previous week for the Upper and Lower state championships in Florence and Greenville.
Other notable items from the meeting include:
▪ Proposal to eliminate seventh graders from playing on junior varsity level was denied.
▪ The high school state volleyball championships will move from White Knoll to Westwood next year.