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Staley, USC see attendance boost

The University of South Carolina women's basketball program lifted its average attendance by 992 fans in 2008-09, a number that ranked seventh in the nation, according to the NCAA.

The Gamecocks drew an average of 2,793 fans over their 15-game home schedule last season after 1,801 fans visited Colonial Life Arena per game in 2007-08.

"Our goal each year is to grow attendance and expose as many fans as possible to the game of women's basketball," director of marketing events and public relations Dawn Ellerbe said. "We focus on creating an atmosphere that is fun and exciting for our fans while providing a great competitive advantage for our student-athletes. With the arrival of head coach Dawn Staley and the student-athletes she has added to our program, interest in our program continues to grow. We look forward to those added fans helping us create a game day environment that rates among the best in the country."

In June, the NCAA announced that South Carolina received one of 18 grants to foster the grown of women's basketball on NCAA member campuses and conferences. Two of the six programs that posted larger attendance gains than the Gamecocks in 2008-09 were among those awarded the grant for last season. Additionally, each of the six programs ranked ahead of South Carolina won more games than the season before, and five of the sixadvanced to postseason play.

"It was great to see more fans come out to help our team battle through a difficult season," head coach Dawn Staley said. "It's a tribute to our players'effort and the work of the marketing staff. The coaching staff is hard at work to put a winning product on the floor, and I know the marketing staff is planning some exciting things that will help us get into the top spot in this list next season."

Largest Women's Basketball Attendance Increase from Previous Year

School ............ Games ............ 09 Avg. ............ 08 Avg. ............ Change

1. Auburn .............. 12 ....... 4,119 ....... 1,842 ....... 2,277

2. East Tenn. St. .... 12 ....... 2,582 ....... 511 ....... 2,071

3. Texas A&M ......... 14 ....... 5,256 ....... 3,674 ....... 1,582

4. Kansas ............... 20 ....... 4,109 ....... 2,749 ....... 1,360

5. Florida State ....... 15 ....... 2,957 ....... 1,904 ....... 1,053

6. Toledo ............... 13 ....... 2,674 ....... 1,627 ....... 1,047

7. South Carolina .... 15 ....... 2,793 ....... 1,801 ....... 992

8. Maryland ............. 15 ....... 8,889 ....... 7,946 ....... 943

9. St. John's (NY) ..... 18 ....... 1,560 ....... 648 ....... 912

10. Seton Hall ......... 16 ....... 1,274 ....... 489 ....... 785

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