South Carolina cancels final two years of WKU home-and-home

Brad Stephens

The two remaining games in the men’s basketball series between WKU and South Carolina have been cancelled, South Carolina announced Thursday.

The Toppers and Gamecocks were scheduled to meet twice more under the terms of a four-game contract agreed upon by both schools after former WKU head coach Darrin Horn left for South Carolina in 2008.

Horn was fired by South Carolina last month following a 10-21 year in his fourth season at the school.

He was replaced by former Kansas State head coach Frank Martin.

“The contract with Western Kentucky was signed as part of the agreement when we hired Darrin Horn,” South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman said in a university release. “With a new staff in place and different scheduling philosophies it is important that we give them flexibility moving forward.”

WKU interim athletics director Todd Stewart said South Carolina will pay WKU a $50,000 exit fee, as stipulated by the contract.

He said it’s not uncommon for such logistical changes to occur when coaching staffs change.

“We attempted to find a solution, but it just came down to the fact that they had a new coaching staff and they just wanted to go in a different direction,” Stewart said. “But to their credit they were very upfront and honest with us about that, which we certainly appreciate because it helps us for planning purposes rather than to drag this on for many months on end.”

WKU’s 2011-2012 non-conference is almost full because of the Sun Belt Conference going to a 20-game schedule and because of the Toppers’ participation in the four-game Cancun Challenge, Stewart said.

Therefore it will be difficult to replace South Carolina with another Southeastern Conference team, Stewart said.

However WKU will begin a two-year home-and-home series with SEC opponent Mississippi in 2013-2014 as a result of former WKU athletics director Ross Bjork’s recent move to Ole Miss.

“Certainly moving forward it’s always a goal of ours to schedule aggressively and to have very attractive home games as part of that,” Stewart said.