COLUMBIA, S.C. — The state of South Carolina already can claim the most recent baseball and football national titles. After this weekend, the state could add men’s basketball and women’s basketball to the list.
Both South Carolina teams are in the Final Four this weekend, with the women’s team playing Stanford on Friday in Dallas and the men facing Gonzaga on Saturday in Phoenix.
On Tuesday, South Carolina coach Frank Martin said the athletic success in the state is built on the people.
“Beautiful people,” Martin said. “Hard-working people. It’s a small state. It’s not relatively small. It’s a small state. Heck, there were more people in a block that we were staying at in New York City than there is in our whole state.
“But the people from here, they love what they are about. They love their state. That’s the beautiful thing about living here. That’s why what has happened has been a surprise to some people. But it’s not a surprise to me.
Coastal Carolina is the reigning baseball national champion, while Clemson won the football championship in January.
The Gamecocks men’s team advanced to its first Final Four with a 77-70 win against Florida at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, building on a historic run through the NCAA Tournament. The women’s team followed suit later Sunday with a win against Florida State.
“When you put special in a room and you get them to co-exist and respect each other and live for one another, then and only then do you have special things,” Martin said. “That’s what this state is about.”
And right now, it is about winning national championships in college sports, which comes as no surprise to Martin.
“After five years here, I’ve learned the values of the people of South Carolina,” Martin said. “I’m not surprised that you’ve had leadership at different universities put people in place and they are so excited for representing what this state is about that this kind of success is taking place.”