University of South Carolina-Beaufort moves sports programs into NCAA Division II

Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 3:30 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT, S.C (WTOC) - After spending years in the NAIA, the University of South Carolina-Beaufort has moved its sports programs into NCAA Division II.

Along with that move, they’re starting up both a men’s and women’s basketball program which is opening the door for a new local rivalry.

Enmarket Arena is cleared out right now but come the week of Thanksgiving, the stands will be filled with fans at the Savannah Hoops Invitational.

And this year Savannah State will face the inaugural University of South Carolina-Beaufort teams in the tournament openers.

“We made some adjustments in our schedule, and we’re gonna jump at the opportunity to play each other. We hope we can make this an annual event, and create a real rivalry between our two teams,” Director of Athletics Quin Monahan said.

The players in the inaugural game will have the chance to get in on the ground floor of something special and to get the extra mile, those who made the game happen wanted them to play in an even bigger venue Enmarket.

“Hopefully the community comes out and there’s a full house for these guys to play in. That’s going to be amazing for both of these teams to play in such a huge crowd. and then once we make this a rivalry and make it a year after year event, it’s going to just be amazing to have the stands full for this type of basketball,” General Manager Monty Jones Jr. said.

The other hope that it’s not just a special experience for the players on the court but for those in the stands.

“There may be a fourth grader, fifth grader, young woman out there who’s never picked up a basketball. This may be her way of getting an education. So it’s important that the community gets behind, parents get behind, coaches in the community get behind us and bring your young men and women out to this event,” Head Coach Cedric Baker said.

The games both men’s and women’s will kick off the tournament on Nov. 21.

Tickets go on sale this Friday.