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Education | Athletics dominating at CCU

Costal Carolina University joined the Sun Belt Conference, President David DeCenzo announced on Sept. 1, 2015.
Costal Carolina University joined the Sun Belt Conference, President David DeCenzo announced on Sept. 1, 2015. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Entering his 19th year at the university, including his long tenure as Coastal Carolina’s play-by-play voice before taking over as athletic director in 2014, few can match Matt Hogue’s perspective on Chanticleer athletics.

And when asked if it’s fair to say more notable developments have happened in the last couple years with the Chants than at any other point in the school’s history, he chuckled and gave it a couple seconds of thought.

“It sure feels like it,” Hogue said. “I think it probably is true in the sense of how many different kinds of things are happening simultaneously.”

“Certainly when you look back through the years there have been spikes in our history with a lot of events and history – certainly when we added football and other construction projects – but when you have something major happening probably from every angle, whether its cost of attendance and NCAA changes, whether it’s ongoing construction projects, whether it’s the addition of a sport, whether it’s the conference affiliation aspect, which is more intense now than it’s ever been for us, it’s the combination of all those things at one time that has made it so exciting and busy at this point.”

The hot button topic that captured the attention of fans and most everyone connected with the university this summer was the revelation that CCU would be joining the Sun Belt Conference – which plays at the higher NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level – in 2016.

As Hogue said, though, that’s not the only thing going on with the athletics program at Coastal Carolina.

After recently completing new softball and baseball stadiums on campus as well as a new tennis facility across U.S. 501, the Chants debuted customized teal turf inside Brooks Stadium this fall and have intentions of building a new soccer and track and field complex in the future.

The Chants will introduce a new sport this calendar year, launching a women’s beach volleyball program in the spring. And adapting to the changing NCAA rules, the university will introduce extra “cost of attendance” financial aid for its men’s and women’s basketball players this year.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for the university, and that’s not even accounting for what has happened on the field and court.

The Chants’ football program has made three straight playoff appearances under head coach Joe Moglia while earning a No. 5 final FCS ranking last year; the men’s basketball program is coming off back-to-back NCAA tournament berths under coach Cliff Ellis for the first time in its history and just recently returned from a historic exhibition trip to Cuba; the men’s soccer program is riding a streak of five straight NCAA tournament berths and has an NCAA-leading 85 total wins since 2010 under coach Shaun Docking; and the baseball program returned to the NCAA regionals last year while laying the foundation for what coach Gary Gilmore hopes will be another deep postseason run in the coming years.

“Going forward, where we really will begin turning a lot of attention to is support services,” Hogue said of the next phase in the Chants’ growth. “We’ve done a great job of getting our facilities where we need to be and we still have business to go there with soccer and track and perhaps upgrades if a conference invite comes, but I think where you’ll start to see us focus our effort is in the areas that support the student-athlete experience – space and staffing for academic [support]; space for practice, where we still are not where we need to be for all our sports; strength and conditioning, training rooms, training tables and all the things that are essential to rounding out the experience.”

Ryan Young: 843-626-0318, @RyanYoungTSN

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