South Carolina was able to boast some of the top programs in the Southeastern Conference this year across sports but the off-field success continued as well.
The student-athletes led the SEC in fall GPA for the 10th straight season and has 19 consecutive semesters over a 3.0 but what may be more impressive is the amount of community service hours worked this academic year.
Gamecocks student-athletes worked 11,153 community service hours during the 2015-16 academic year, which led the SEC by over 4,000 hours. On average, each student-athlete volunteered 21 hours of their time.
“We all get excited about our teams and winning games is a big part of athletics,” athletics directory Ray Tanner said. “At the end of the day, it’s about education and developing young people, and I’m very sincere about that. That’s impactful, and very gratifying to see that.”
Many of those hours came during the October floods that caused that caused $12 billion in damages, according to a December report in The State newspaper.
Campus closed for several days, practices were canceled but many teams went out into the community to help with the relief efforts.
“When campus was closed and people vacated, our student-athletes didn’t vacate,” Tanner said. “They continued to try to work out the best way they could to stay in shape, but they also went out into the community. It’s a culture that’s been created and I have to give Erica Nelson a lot of credit for that, the coaches and the student-athletes.”
The volleyball team was the school’s Community Outreach Team of the Year, with an average of 93 hours per student-athlete.
Tanner was able to get out into the community at times as well to watch his student-athletes in action.
“What stands out more than anything is where they are as young people, their leadership skills. When I get a chance to visit and see our student-athletes in those settings, it’s a reflection for me that they’re here now, but in 10 years, they’ll be in roles that will be far-reaching and impacting whatever they’re doing professionally.”
There were a lot of on-field accomplishments this season in South Carolina athletics, but the impact that student-athletes had in the community shouldn’t be ignored.