Coastal Carolina University Athletics Director Matt Hogue was the guest speaker at the Orangeburg Touchdown Club on Thursday, as he updated those in attendance on what is taking place at the Conway school.

The Chanticleers' athletic program recently won the NCAA College World Series title and is currently in a two-year transition period into the Sun Belt Conference and the Football Bowl Subdivision level of football.

CCU is approaching student enrollment of 11,000 students, which will make it the third-largest college in South Carolina.

“Our campus is an incredible spot that has really transformed in the last five to six years,” Hogue said. “Over the last six or seven years, we’ve built about $220 million dollars worth of projects, with the majority of that being for our academic and educational core. Only a sliver of that has been on the athletic side.

“But, of course, we’ve put some significant facilities in place, such as our new baseball stadium and softball stadium, both of which were completed in 2015. We have a dynamic location and a vibrant, diverse student body.”

Coastal Carolina now has 11 women’s intercollegiate sports (including the new addition of beach volleyball) and eight men’s sports.

The Chanticleers' football program began in 2003, thanks in part to an advisory committee that included Orangeburg Touchdown Club master of ceremonies and S.C. State head coach emeritus Willie Jeffries. The CCU football team is now in its 14th season, having posted 104 wins in nearly 160 games played.

“When we were approached in spring of 2015 by the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, they asked us about our interest in possibly joining their conference,” Hogue said. “We went through a lot of effort and soul searching to see if it was something that made sense for us.

“The Sun Belt later gave us an invitation to join, to take all of our sports into the conference and take our football team onto the FBS level, taking another step forward.”

All sports at CCU, except for football, have already begun play in the Sun Belt Conference. The football team will begin play in the league in 2018. This season they are playing as an FCS independent. In 2017, the Chanticleers will be playing a full FBS schedule in the Sun Belt Conference.

CCU football could be bowl eligible in 2017, but will definitely be bowl eligible in 2018.

In the past year, the Chanticleers' program received its final generated revenue check from the Big South Conference in the range of $90-$100 thousand dollars. In the Sun Belt Conference, that check will now bump up to $1.2 million dollars annually.

Football teams that will be in the SBC with Coastal include Troy, South Alabama, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Appalachian State, Texas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State. New Mexico State and Idaho are football-only conference members through 2017, when they will exit the conference. Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington are two SBC non-football members.

Also during the Thursday meeting of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club, the Sports Plus Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week were honored, with Bethune-Bowman junior tailback Makiah Simmons recognized on offense and Edisto junior defensive end Quincy Fredrick recognized on defense.

Contact the writer: cclark@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5553.

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Orangeburg County native Chris Clark is a graduate of North Greenville University and Coker College and played baseball for both. He worked at The Morning News and The Dillon Herald prior to joining The T&D.

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