Originally created 08/11/01

University of South Carolina turns down bowl game



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina will not be hosting the Aloha Bowl, Palmetto Bowl or any other bowl game on Christmas Day.

"This bowl opportunity does not serve the university's purpose," President John Palms said at a board of trustees meeting Friday.

Palms said he agreed with athletic director Mike McGee that the game should not be played at Williams-Brice Stadium.

McGee said the game would hurt the Gamecocks' preparation for any bowl game to which they might be invited. Last year, South Carolina had a 24-7 victory over Ohio State in the Outback Bowl under the leadership of coach Lou Holtz.

In addition, the Southeastern Conference would not be able to guarantee a team each year for the bowl, and the game would require about 1,500 workers to man the stadium on Christmas Day, McGee said.

Even though Palms said the bowl would bring two lower rate teams to the stadium, Gov. Jim Hodges and other lawmakers said the state would benefit from the money spent by an estimated 20,000 fans coming to the game.

University officials understand the effect of revenues for the region and state and they do market the stadium as a venue "when it does not interfere with the normal athletic operations and functions of that facility," Palms said.

"It's not that we don't want to do something to help the city," said board Chairman Mack Whittle. "It's just that with the facts and circumstances around this bowl, it conflicts with what the university's goals and objectives are."

State House Majority Leader Rick Quinn, R-Columbia, said the university is being shortsighted.

"It's not really about the Aloha Bowl," Quinn said. "It's about whether we have a good procedure for using this state facility."

Quinn said he will not intervene legislatively for more state control over the stadium, but he wants the university to consider an arrangement similar to other states that gives the city control over the stadium for a certain number of days in the year.

Whittle said the university's athletic program is the top priority.

"We spent a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of energy to try to get this football program to where it is today," Whittle said. "I think to do anything that would be detrimental to that - as viewed by the coaching staff and by the athletic director - would not be prudent."

The Aloha Bowl has been played in Hawaii each year, but sluggish ticket sales have been blamed on the distance the teams' supporters have to travel. San Francisco already has turned down promoters Fritz Rohlfing and Terry Daw because ABC-TV, which televises the game, would not agree to switch the date.

Organizers also are negotiating to play the game in Anaheim, Calif., at Edison Field, home of Major League Baseball's Angels.

Aloha Sports also organizes the Oahu Bowl, which has been moved to Seattle and renamed the Seattle Bowl.