Winter break brought USC's campus a change of pace as classes ended, but basketball games and football staffing and player changes kept South Carolina sports active.
Two South Carolina women’s basketball games were postponed, but the Gamecocks still won all four games they played. This included home matchups against Temple and Florida, and road victories against Kentucky and the previously undefeated Alabama.
The Gamecocks beat Kentucky 75-70 on Sunday night.
During their 103-41 game against Temple, sophomore forward Aliyah Boston came within one rebound of a double-double after scoring 14 points, and sophomore guard Zia Cooke scored her 500th point of her career.
“I kinda figured it was going to be a pretty good night, just based off the week that I had. I had a pretty good week in practice,” Cooke said.
The men’s basketball team saw six schedule changes, including three cancellations over winter break due to COVID-19. After the new year, the Gamecocks won home games against Florida A&M and Texas A&M.
Pending COVID-19 protocols, men's basketball will play Tennessee at home on Jan. 12.
Football head coach Shane Beamer’s five-year contract, worth $2.75 million annually, was finalized at the beginning of winter break. South Carolina’s board of trustees approved the contract unanimously, which includes bonus incentives based on Beamer and the team’s performances.
On Dec. 16, Beamer announced his early football signing class of eight players. Quarterback Colten Gauthier from Hebron Christian Academy in Georgia was the first to sign with South Carolina.
Additional offensive players who signed include wide receivers Sam Reynolds and O’Mega Blake, offensive linemen JonDarius Morgan and Jordan Davis and running back Caleb “Juju” McDowell.
Defensive back Marcellas Dial and defensive lineman Nicolas Barrett complete the eight-man early signing roster.
“I want to thank our fanbase,” Beamer said at a press conference. “These young men that we’re recruiting and are signing today and that we’re still recruiting, they feel the energy from the South Carolina fanbase. They feel the excitement in Columbia right now.”
After the Christmas holiday, Beamer began finalizing his 2021 coaching staff.
Beamer asked offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, running backs coach Des Kitchings, outside linebackers coach Mike Peterson and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker to stay on the staff roster from 2020. He also hired tight ends coach Erik Kimrey, associate head and special teams coach Pete Lembo and offensive line coach Will Friend.
However, Auburn announced on Jan. 7 they were hiring Bobo from the Gamecocks. Friend, who worked with Bobo at Colorado State University and the University of Georgia, will also make the switch to the Auburn Tigers coaching staff with Bobo.
Beamer filled the offensive coordinator position with former Carolina Panthers assistant offensive line coach Marcus Satterfield.
Connor Shaw will also be playing a part in the 2021 season, though Beamer said his role remains undetermined.
"He loves this school and this program. Connor is committed to helping our players succeed and reach their full potential," Beamer said.
Right before the new year, sophomore former quarterback Ryan Hilinksi announced his decision to leave South Carolina and enter the transfer portal.
"This has been the hardest decision I have had to make in my entire life," Hilinski said in a tweet.