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USC AD Tanner receives extension; trustees updated on student parking, mental health programs

The University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees approved a two-year contract extension for Athletics Director Ray Tanner during its March meeting Friday (March 17). Tanner’s previous contract, set to expire in June 2024, will now run through June 2026. 

Under Tanner’s watch as head of athletics, Gamecock student-athletes have achieved tremendous success in intercollegiate athletic competition, in the classroom and in the community. Gamecock student-athletes have posted a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or better in 32 consecutive semesters.  Since 2015, Gamecock student-athletes have earned more SEC Academic Honor Roll honors than any other school. 

During Tanner’s tenure, the Gamecocks have won three national championships (2014 equestrian; 2017, 2022 women’s basketball), 17 SEC regular season and tournament championships and have posted three of the top six finishes in the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup All-Sports Standings in school history.

After a historic regular season, the No. 1 ranked Gamecock women’s basketball team begin their NCAA tournament run Friday afternoon, seeking to defend last year’s national title. The Gamecocks football team defeated two top 10 teams last year and were ranked 23rd in the country in the final Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls, marking the first time since the 2013 season that the Gamecocks finished the season ranked in the top 25. In all, nine sports either are currently ranked or recently finished in the top 25, including Men’s tennis (No. 2), baseball (No. 16) and women’s golf (No.4). Gamecocks have 25 wins this year alone against teams ranked in the top 20. 

USC also has claimed the Palmetto Series every year since it began in 2015. The series consists of athletic, community service and academic points in head-to-head matchups against Clemson University.

Every athletics program at USC is the beneficiary of either a new or significantly upgraded practice or competition facility since Tanner was named athletics director. Just last month, USC announced intentions for a major modernization of Williams-Brice Stadium that could also pave the way for the development of more than 800 acres of undeveloped USC property situated adjacent with the Congaree River.

Tanner was first named Athletics director in July 2012 after serving for 16 years as the Gamecock’s baseball coach. His storied coaching career included six College World Series appearances and two back-to back national championships (2010, 2011).

Praise for AD Tanner:

“Ray Tanner continues to set a high standard and has made Gamecock athletics an essential part of our community and our state. Ray’s record of building up our student athletes while improving the fan experience is second to none. I’m grateful to the Board for approving this extension and look forward to continued success under his leadership.”—President Michael D. Amiridis

“I’m excited to hear that Coach Tanner will continue as our Athletics Director. Our relationship and my respect for Coach Tanner has grown so much since I returned to Columbia in 2020. I’m excited about the progress we’ve made as a football program. I’m even more excited to continue to elevate our program under Coach Tanner’s leadership.” –Head football coach Shane Beamer

“I applaud the action taken today by President Amiridis and the Board of Trustees to extend Coach Tanner’s contract. No one cares more about our university and the success of our student-athletes than Coach Tanner. You can see the real momentum building throughout the athletics department, thanks to his leadership.” –Women’s head basketball coach Dawn Staley


Also on Friday, USC’s Board of trustees received updated on student parking and mental health initiatives:

The University of South Carolina will expand on its current parking options for students this fall, adding approximately 1,500 student spaces within walking distance of classrooms and housing. The plan will further establish student parking in designated areas on the perimeter of campus while encouraging shuttle service and pedestrian routes for navigating campus.

The new parking includes:

  • Additional residential student parking in the Horizon garage (Assembly and Wheat streets) and commuter student parking in the Discovery garage (Park and College streets).
  • New commuter and residential student spaces in a surface lot west of Gadsen Street and adjacent to the Colonial Life Arena.
  • Expansion of a surface lot near Flora Street, within walking distance to the new Campus Village residential community.
  • More than 200 short term parking spaces near Pickens Street and Campus Village.

In addition, USC is developing a plan to help optimize its existing permitting and pricing system while consulting on how to apply new technology to improve the campus navigation experience. 

Also on Friday, trustees were updated on USC’s approach to providing comprehensive mental health services to students. Increased rates of depression and anxiety among college-aged students is a national problem, and USC is addressing it through a combination of prevention and holistic care available to the university community. 

Preventive services available at USC include an array of offerings such as mindfulness training, stress management education, resiliency workshops and more. USC also offers one-on-one and group counseling, and 24-7 crisis care education programs designed to help identify and support peers in need. Earlier this year, USC President Amiridis announced an additional $1 million investment to support mental health and wellness on the Columbia campus, which includes expansion of the 24-7 support line and telehealth capabilities along with the hiring of additional staff to support students.

“When I began speaking with students about how we can better meet their needs, transportation and mental health were two issues that were frequently discussed,” Amiridis said. “With the support of our board and through the hard work of dedicated staff, we will continue to make improvements and find innovative solutions that enhance the college experience for all our students.”