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South Carolina Gamecocks
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 Southeastern Conference. Men's soccer competes in Conference USA because the SEC does not sponsor men's soccer. 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.
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. 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."South Carolina usually calls itself simply "Carolina," "USC," or "SC" in athletics, causing occasional confusion with the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Southern California Trojans. Sports networks such as ESPN use the abbreviation "SCAR" during their coverage of Gamecocks sports. The University of South Carolina was a member of the Southern Conference for men's basketball and football from 1922 until it became a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1953. The Gamecocks left the ACC in 1971, following numerous disputes over the ACC's recruiting regulations and the political dominance of the conference's four North Carolina schools.