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University of South Carolina Press

Book, A Gamecock Odyssey

Book, A Gamecock Odyssey

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Meet the coaches, athletes, and notable characters that laid the foundation for today's Gamecock Nation.

The summer of 1971 was especially hot in Columbia and not just because of the weather. It was that year that a long-simmering conflict between the University of South Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) reached the point of boiling over. Frustrations over the ACC's recruiting and admission standards, and growing pressure from influential athletics director and head football coach Paul Dietzel, led the board of trustees to cast a vote in favor of leaving the conference that USC had helped to found eighteen years earlier. This vote would mark the beginning of a new independent era of Gamecock athletics, but few at the time could have imagined the resulting twenty-year odyssey.

In A Gamecock Odyssey: University of South Carolina Sports in the Independent Era, Alan Piercy chronicles the significant events and describes the larger-than-life characters of the years following the university's departure from the ACC. The University of South Carolina experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows in its athletics history. Tales of interpersonal clashes between football head coach Paul Dietzel and men's basketball head coach Frank McGuire; the rise and fall of women's basketball coach Pam Parsons; George Rogers and his magical Heisman Trophy-winning season; the birth of USC's beloved mascot, Cocky; and other USC sports stories converge, stirring feelings of amusement, nostalgia, and pride.

With colorful storytelling and Gamecock pride, Piercy gives college sports fans a behind-the-scenes tour of these raucous decades. He explains how South Carolina's independent era tells the broader story of NCAA sports conference realignment, Title IX, the impact of the civil rights movement on college athletics, the evolution of college sports media coverage, and the development of college sports into a multi-billion-dollar business sustained by TV broadcast and licensing rights.

A Gamecock Odyssey captures the spirit of the time and shows the reader how those years influenced today's Gamecock culture and national obsession with college athletics.
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