The Women of South Carolina Initiative Launched

University of South Carolina Athletics

March is Women's History Month, and this March the women of South Carolina Athletics were once again in a position to be heard. While many Gamecock seasons were cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these women still have something to celebrate thanks to one of the program's largest supporters stepping up again for Gamecock Athletics.

Lou Kennedy, a Columbia business leader and prominent philanthropist of University of South Carolina Athletics, as well as her husband, Bill, have stepped forward with leadership gifts to fund a new initiative known as The Women of South Carolina. The program aims to build on the amazing momentum that currently exists throughout the entire Gamecock women's sports portfolio and ensures a continued commitment to excellence. Funds generated by the initiative will support enhancing the experience of female student-athletes, particularly those whose efforts and successes have not yet found the media spotlight, by providing resources not only during their time as Gamecocks, but also throughout the rest of their lives.

"The Carolina family is not only blessed with talented student-athletes playing women's sports, we are also blessed with world-class women's coaches, who are developing them into champions," Kennedy said. "Bill and I are grateful for all of these women, who are ambassadors for our great university on and off the field, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for each of them."

South Carolina's women's programs have been successful across the board for years, and this spring was no exception with women's basketball finishing the year ranked first in the nation and women's golf finishing the year as the highest ranked team in the SEC at seventh in the nation.

Looking back over the past decade, every women's sports team made multiple national tournament appearances. While women's basketball may have highlighted these successes with a 2017 National Championship, 2015 Final Four, and five SEC Regular-Season Championships and five SEC Tournament titles, they were by no means outliers.

Since 2010, South Carolina's 11 women's programs have amassed two team national titles, eight SEC regular-season team championships and nine SEC Tournament crowns. Those teams have been powered by 103 All-America selections and 167 all-conference choices. In addition, track and field crowned one individual and one relay team as national champions.

"We are grateful for the support from Lou and Bill Kennedy of our women's athletic teams," said Maria Hickman, Executive Associate Athletics Director and Senior Women's Administrator. "This contribution will allow our female student-athletes the opportunity to elevate their performance in sport and in life. It allows our department to create new programming such as leadership and career development to assist with building upon their success."

South Carolina Athletics takes pride in providing a top-notch student-athlete experience for all of its teams. As proven by recent success, there is a direct correlation between investment and victory. This is where Gamecock fans can help by showing their support for The Women of South Carolina.

This initiative will directly impact the student-athletes through:

Program support - providing resources and facility enhancements for all women's sports programs to ensure continued success

Program development - providing team-building opportunities and chances to travel/compete internationally

Career development - providing professional networking through our student-athlete mentor program

Leadership training - creating opportunities for student-athletes to continue to grow as leaders in sport, business and society

Endowed scholarships - ensuring financial aid for worthy student-athletes

"There is a special culture at South Carolina in which our women's teams have thrived," South Carolina Women's Basketball Head Coach Dawn Staley said. "The Women of South Carolina will continue that tradition of athletic success and of developing incredible young women into leaders."

In launching this program, Gamecock Athletics illustrates its continual investment in the future of its student-athletes, by providing support for all of its student-athletes - both male and female - by delivering an experience that will forever better their lives. Support of The Women of South Carolina will help further champion its female student-athletes. To find out more about the initiative, please visit: https://thegamecockclub.com/the-women-of-south-carolina/ or reach out to Chrissy Schoonmaker at 803-777-5723 or schoonma@mailbox.sc.edu.

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