The Daily Gamecock

USC prepares for GameDay

All-night event on Horseshoe requires increased staff, security


While most Gamecock fans rejoiced when they heard ESPN’s College GameDay would be coming to Columbia for the Georgia game this weekend, for others it meant an intense week of preparations. 

Russell House Director Kim McMahon described a “love-hate” feeling she has for the event and the amount of work leading up to it.

“The difficulty is trying to create a lot of things in a small amount of time and organize folks that aren’t used to organizing very quickly,” McMahon said.

While the official announcement was not made until after South Carolina’s victory over Kentucky, it did not come as a complete surprise to the Office of Student Life.

The university was first contacted by ESPN this summer about the possibility of College GamedDay coming to Columbia for the highly touted UGA matchup, according to Jerry Brewer, associate vice president for Student Affairs.

“We made sure that there would be no conflicting events this weekend,” Brewer said. “We didn’t want to jinx it, but we wanted to be prepared.”

USC got the call a few weeks ago that this weekend’s game was one of the three finalists, so even President Harris Pastides was crossing his fingers during the Kentucky game last week.

“I was thinking as much about GameDay as I was losing the game,” Pastides said, referencing the Gamecocks’ sloppy play in the first half. “I was holding my breath as I watched the game in hopes we’d get picked.”

When the announcement was made, the work began for staff and administrators across the university.

“There are tons of units being impacted by this,” McMahon said, listing facilities, university police and the athletics department among some of the many departments that have had to bear an increased workload this week.

The Russell House will remain open all night Friday, mandating increased hours from its employees, some of whom are USC students. USC police officers and private security guards will man the Horseshoe as students camp out Friday evening until Saturday morning, and resident mentors in the Horseshoe apartments will have to increase their number of duty rounds. 

“All of the residence halls will be locked down and have extra security both inside the facilities and around them,” Brewer said.

The number of visitors in these residence halls, usually left to students to regulate, will be limited, according to Heather Young, coordinator of marketing and communications for University Housing.

While Horseshoe residents may not be used to having their front yard packed with camping college students, Brewer and the Office of Student Life plan to reward them for their patience with free College GameDay T-shirts.

College Street has already been blocked off, and roads surrounding the Horseshoe including Sumter and Greene Streets will be closed by Friday evening in order to allow the ESPN crew to set up for the Saturday morning show. While these street closings will slightly alter the path of gameday shuttles, Brewer said that rides to and from the stadium will not be significantly longer and that they will still be “running smoothly.”

Both McMahon and Brewer said that the additional work was worth making the university shine on national television.

“We all know that everyone is truly coming together to make this the best experience so that ESPN is proud that they chose us, that our students get to have a great experience and that we represent the university in the best way we know how,” McMahon said. 

Editor-in-Chief Colin Campbell contributed reporting.