South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer is calling on all Gamecock fans to fill the stadium moving forward, becoming the latest USC head coach to make the proclamation.
In the aftermath of USC’s 24-13 victory over Troy on Saturday, Beamer ended his postgame press conference with a message aimed at season ticket holders.
“I appreciate the fans that were there,” Beamer said. “They were loud, and the Cockpit was rocking down there in the end zone. We appreciate those guys. Going forward if you’re a season-ticket holder or if you’re somebody that has tickets to a game and you’re not going to come, please get those tickets to somebody else.
“There’s a bunch of great Gamecocks out there that would love to be in the stadium. Let me know and we’ll put it on social media and get some tickets given away, because we’ve got some great fans and we need every single one of them out there.”
Despite a capacity of 80,250 at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday’s game drew an underwhelming 60,686, one of the lowest marks in the past decade. Even the season opener, which saw USC trample Eastern Illinois 46-0, had just 64,868 paying customers. The issue is nothing new for USC, as former “ole ball coach” Steve Spurrier had his dealings with fans not showing up to games or leaving early during his tenure.
Take Spurrier’s remarks after a 48-10 victory over foe East Carolina on Sept. 8, 2012.
“I hope we’re not reverting back to the days when football wasn’t very important around here and the pregame party and the postgame party was more important than the game itself,” Spurrier said. “I’m hoping the Gamecock fans will treat the game as the most important part of their Saturday football day. It didn’t appear that way yesterday.”
Spurrier redacted those comments later, saying that he thinks students should be able to stay for the duration of the game.
“The students, I think they should stay,” Spurrier said. “So they’re going to be up half the night or all the night anyway. So, students, sing the alma mater with us. But the other people, we appreciate you buying the ticket. I have to say that. You look at these stadiums all around the country, and they’re not packed like ours.
“I really want to tell our fans keep buying the ticket and if you need to leave at the end of the third quarter, that’s OK. If you’ve got little kids or something and you want to beat the crowd, I can understand that. I really can.”
While Beamer and Spurrier have brought the attendance issues to light, it’s fair to suggest that it has to do with the opponent in some cases. Troy is hardly a draw and it’s plausible that many students didn’t find it necessary to sit in the blistering, fall South Carolina heat on a Saturday afternoon.
As for ways to get students to the games, USC has a loyalty system in place for its students. Students are given coupons after the game that can be redeemed for loyalty points. They can also earn points to receive free USC Under Armour gear.