The Daily Gamecock

'I want to be involved': USC President Amiridis, Tanner hopeful for future of Gamecock athletics

<p>FILE—Athletics Director Ray Tanner speaks to the crowd during men’s basketball coach Lamont Paris’ introductory press conference. The press conference was held on March 24, 2022 in Colonial Life Arena.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
FILE—Athletics Director Ray Tanner speaks to the crowd during men’s basketball coach Lamont Paris’ introductory press conference. The press conference was held on March 24, 2022 in Colonial Life Arena.  

While he may have numerous responsibilities, USC's new President Michael Amiridis plans to be fully involved with South Carolina athletics. Amiridis said he will try to help conquer the problems that the athletics department has recently faced. 

During the last few years, one of the main controversies for the athletics department has been coaching turnover after the university went through multiple expensive buyouts — a clause in a coach's contract that forces an organization to pay an employee a guaranteed amount of money if it chooses to fire them.

The school bought out former head football coach Will Muschamp’s contract in 2020 and former head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin’s contract in 2022. In total, the school paid out $15.9 million dollars between the two coaches.

Amiridis said he wants to learn more about coaching contracts as buyouts are a "necessary evil."

“I want to understand a little bit more if there are issues within the athletic department," Amiridis said. "When you’re talking about the contracts that we have, the buyout, if you don’t have a buyout in the contract, you’re not going to be able to hire anyone in the SEC."

Amiridis said he is eager to better understand the contracts and plans to rely on Athletics Director Ray Tanner for support. Tanner said he is looking forward to getting Amiridis more involved.

“As an athletics director, I report directly to him. So, I will be meeting with him on a regular schedule about athletics and then the landscape of what we’re doing on this side of campus,” Tanner said.

The presidents of South Carolina have always played some kind of role in athletics. Most recent Presidents Harris Pastides and Robert Caslen were both involved in past hirings and firings. Caslen played a role in helping bring current head football coach Shane Beamer to Columbia. Pastides could always be found at sporting events supporting the Gamecocks. 

While Amiridis’ expertise may not be in sports, he comes from an athletic background and still understands the culture. In his youth, he was a competitive basketball player when he lived in Greece. 

“He is a real sports fan. He’s an outdoors person from that regard. Loves athletics and just fun to be around,” Dennis Pruitt, former vice president for student affairs, said.

Tanner said not a lot of university presidents around the country are in tune with sports, but Amiridis is different.

“He will immerse himself into our young men and young women who play sports,” Tanner said, “I know that he will be at as many competitions as his schedule will allow, because he wants to be.” 

Back in April, Amiridis attended the NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship game where head coach Dawn Staley's team won its second national championship. Moving forward, he hopes to see other Gamecock teams win just like the women's basketball program had.

“I think, right now, when you look at women's basketball, people ask me, ‘How come women’s basketball is so great?'" Amiridis said. "The answer is the coach."

Tanner said he is excited for Amiridis to be leading USC and believes he is the appropriate hire because of his experience in higher education and love for athletics.

“His passion is infectious for where we are right now,” Tanner said. “He’s just a great choice by our board of trustees and we all know that went in a lot of different directions at times, but just a tremendous choice, and it's going to be a great asset for our university.”


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