COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—It’s a problem the University of South Carolina’s athletics department has never had before: planning to get all the people involved with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams to the Final Four.
“The sheer numbers, with families and staff members, make it much bigger than a normal basketball trip, and it really is much bigger than a regular basketball trip with being the Final Four,” says Charles Bloom, Executive Assistant Athletics Director. “But we want to make sure that the student-athletes and the staff are taken care of and, you know, we want to accomplish the main mission is to win, so make everything as comfortable as we can for the team and the staff.”
The women’s team was in Stockton, California for its regional and went straight from there to Dallas, where the women’s Final Four games will be played. The men’s team will leave for Phoenix Wednesday, along with staff and support personnel.
Since the student-athletes are students first, the athletics department has tutors with both teams and the athletes are required to keep up with their school work.
The school will send a pep band, cheer squad, and Cocky to each game to support the teams.
The NCAA gives each athlete six tickets to the game and each athlete gets $3,000 from the NCAA to pay for two family members’ airfare, lodging, and food. If the Gamecocks win and make it to the championship games, each athlete will get another $1,000 to offset the cost of the additional time spent there.
The NCAA sent USC and each school involved a thick manual detailing all of the logistics for the Final Four, which also involves practice time, news conferences, and festivities leading up to the games.
Some of the arrangements are made by the NCAA, but the school is responsible for most of the planning. Bloom says, “It is tough from a staffing standpoint because we also have events here this weekend–a football spring game and a softball weekend–so we take, our staff is spread out three different locations. But it’s fun. These are not bad problems. These are very good problems to have.”