The University of South Carolina‘s 19 varsity sports teams are known as the Gamecocks. The unique moniker is held in honor of Thomas Sumter, a South Carolina war hero who was given the name “The Carolina Gamecock” during the American Revolution for his fierce fighting tactics, regardless of his physical stature or the size of his regiment. A British General commented that Sumter “fought like a gamecock.” While the men have traditionally been the Fighting Gamecocks and the women were previously the Lady Gamecocks, this distinction was discontinued in part to help eliminate gender bias in their athletic department, and to discount the oft-held misconception that their mascot is meant to honor/promote animal bloodsport in any way.
All of the University’s varsity teams compete at the Division I level of the NCAA, and all but men’s soccer compete in the Southeastern Conference. Men’s soccer competes in Conference USA because the SEC does not sponsor men’s soccer.
The official school colors are garnet and black. However, some officially licensed merchandise also contain gold, which represents the spurs historically worn by gamecocks in cockfights. The colors of garnet and black were chosen by the family of Dr. J. William Flinn when they presented a banner composed of those colors to the football team in November 1895. There was no definite act of adoption of the colors, but an unsuccessful attempt was made shortly after 1900 to change the colors.
The athletics department is supported with private money from the Gamecock Club. It was originally formed as the B.A.M. (“Buck-A-Month”) Club in 1939 and 1940 to benefit the athletics programs from privately raised funds.
Although the University’s varsity teams have won only a few national titles, many league championships and tournament titles have been won over the years. Tim Brando of CBS Sports has said, “You won’t find any more loyal fans in the country than those who follow the South Carolina Gamecocks.”