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Athletics Department Increases Resources for Needy Students

Dec. 22, 2008

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of South Carolina athletics department will commit $15 million over 15 years for university academics -- primarily need-based student scholarships.

University Athletics Director Eric Hyman and President Harris Pastides said Monday that the agreement, which calls for $1 million per year over the life of the contract, strengthens the ongoing partnership between athletics and academics and comes at a time when the university is facing severe budget cuts.

"This commitment gives South Carolina's athletics department an opportunity to assist the university in maintaining its strong national and regional reputation," Hyman said. "All of us want Carolina to remain a strong flagship university because every department, including athletics, benefits."

Pastides said the athletics department's latest commitment of support could not have come at a better time, given recent state budget cuts to higher education.

"The athletics department's financial support, which will allow the university to enhance scholarship and other academic programs for students and address other institutional needs, demonstrates clearly the department's commitment to blending seamlessly into the life and mission of our institution," he said. "I appreciate Eric Hyman's support and his leadership of Carolina athletics."

The funds, which are from the 15-year ESPN/CBS all-sports broadcasting contract with the Southeastern Conference, will assist in meeting several specific needs:

  • increased funding of the Gamecock Guarantee, a need-based scholarship program for students from families of limited means;
  • allocation for resident students who have severe family circumstances such as loss of employment; and
  • assistance for graduate students to meet their health-insurance premiums.
University Board of Trustees Chairman Miles Loadholt commended the president and the athletics department for forging an agreement that helps to build a stronger Carolina and more opportunities for students.

"President Pastides has fostered an environment of inter-departmental cooperation within the university, and we are proud of our athletics enterprise and even more proud of its citizenship within the scope of the long-range mission of the university," Loadholt said. "Ultimately, this will help bring many more scholarships to deserving students."

Mike Slive, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, said the university's partnership is indicative of the integral link between athletics and academics in higher education.

"The Southeastern Conference's recent contractual agreements with CBS and ESPN will help position the conference's member institutions to continue to support their broad-based athletic and academic programs, consistent with our mission," he said.

By state law, athletics departments at public universities in South Carolina are considered auxiliary enterprises and must be self supporting. Carolina's athletics department derives revenue from a number of non-state-appropriated sources, including ticket sales, SEC membership, broadcasting contracts and the Gamecock Club.


President Dr. Harris Pastides
"There are economic clouds above us but today the sun is shining on the University of South Carolina. There was a meeting of the SEC college presidents two months ago in Atlanta. We contemplated our pending budget cuts, but I dare say that at time none of us knew exactly how dire they would become for our states and our universities and students.

"The timing for this agreement could not come at a better time as our university faces budget cuts of an historic proportion. Athletics has always supported the academic mission of our university, so it was no surprise Eric Hyman would step forward and offer us his unconditional support.

"The University of South Carolina is one family and there is no differentiation between our academics and our sports.

"I'm particularly gratified that the funds of this agreement will go to help those who need it the most.

"I want to emphasize that these discussions were not difficult. At a time when the spirit of giving and volunteerism have taken greater importance in our country, I express again gratitude to Eric Hyman for his commitment to this university."

Athletics Director Eric Hyman
"The University and athletics department have been in discussion about the allocation of funds. The agreement is to share $1 million to a need based scholarship program for families with limited needs. It's going to be primarily focused on students with need basis. Our student body has been incredibly supportive of our student-athletes, and this gives us the opportunity to give back to those in need.

"Recruitment of student-athletes is enhanced by the academic reputation of the university. As a result, this agreement is even more significant."

William Hubbard, Board of Trustees
"This is one of my proudest moments. The agreement is both historic and symbolic. It dispels the belief that academics and athletics are separate. I want to thank President Pastides for his leadership, wisdom and steadiness that he's navigating our university through this budget crisis."

Reed Curtis, GSA President
"On behalf of the students of the University of South Carolina, I would like to express our gratitude. Families and students are facing pressing financial burdens. It has never been more evident that our Gamecock community expresses a shared vision... for the hope for our education."

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