South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner gave his state of the union address to the Board of Trustees on Friday, which was fitting. Even though it’s been more than a year since he took office, he was hired on a Friday the 13th.
Might as well update the folks on another Friday the 13th.
Tanner discussed what’s been going on with the Gamecocks’ athletic department and the common word was “good.” USC is online with its facility construction, has a record number of Gamecock Club members and is enjoying the popularity that having two recent Hall of Fame inductees and three coaches serving on Team USA staffs brings.
-- Tanner praised women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and track and field coach Curtis Frye for their Hall of Fame nods (Staley was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last week and Frye will enter the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in December. In addition, Frye, men’s basketball coach Frank Martin and swimming coach McGee Moody each represented USC at the World University Games.
-- Major gift giving isn’t on pace with last year’s $15 million-plus total, but is progressing nicely. “Our goal for 2013 was a little over 7 million and we exceeded that,” Tanner said. “Hopefully, 2014 will be a big year as well.”
-- USC’s compliance department, which has 10 full-time staffers, is doing a fine job. The Gamecocks had no major infractions in any sports, and is in the middle of the SEC in terms of reported secondary violations. Tanner said that 91 percent of the violations were self-discovered by coaches and staff.
-- USC has a record 16,404 Gamecock Club members, and has had a 5.6 percent increase in football ticket sales. The North Carolina game was sold out, and USC’s games against Florida and Clemson are already sold out. Tanner has been assured that Saturday’s Vanderbilt game will be sold out as well.
-- USC’s newest sport, sand volleyball, is a little bit behind on its court construction due to the heavy rain during the summer. They hope to be done by November. The Gamecocks are the first SEC school to adopt the sport but LSU also plans to play in the spring, and three or four other SEC schools are lining up to play. The sport has to have at least six members to qualify to play for an SEC championship.
-- The new football practice fields, for a cost of $3 million, are set to be completed by July 2014. Construction will begin as soon as this season ends. The Indoor Practice Facility, at a cost of $14.5 million, is scheduled to be done by March 2015.
-- An upgrade to the new tennis facility, which will have locker rooms, a team meeting room, film rooms and restaurants, will be built under the concourse by December 2014. It will also feature a visitor team meeting room and restroom. USC is set to host the SEC men’s tennis tournament in spring 2015.
-- Tanner unveiled plans to convert the current indoor practice facility into an indoor track. The size of the building is perfect and the Gamecocks wouldn’t have to build an entirely new structure. The new outdoor track will be placed in the same location as the current one. Those upgrades are set to be done by 2016.
-- A $2.5 million soccer building is set to be built beside the soccer field, bordering the graveyard and the street. It will get the locker rooms out of the indoor facility and soccer can be self-contained. It is set to be done by January 2016.
-- There are no definite plans or a budget, but Tanner wants to build a USC Hall of Fame one day, hopefully near Williams-Brice Stadium. “We have had these discussions,” Tanner said. “I had a lengthy conversation with a person who I think could help us in a big way. When we have an opportunity to move forward, we need to do that.”
* The state limit for debt is $200 million. Tanner estimated that USC’s debt once everything is done will be $160 million, or just a bit under.
-- A plaque honoring Rex Enright, USC’s winningest football coach until Steve Spurrier broke the mark last year, was saved from the demolition of the Roundhouse. After talking with Enright’s family, the plaque is set to have a place of honor in the Rice Athletics Center.
-- USC will host the SEC equestrian and softball championships this year. It will be a chance to show off the brand-new softball stadium since the tournament will be televised.
-- With the advent of the SEC Network, Tanner is hopeful that athletics and the School of Journalism can work on a collaboration to get students some practical work experience.