COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's new basketball coach
Darrin Horn said Tuesday he intends to win the Southeastern
Conference and make the Gamecocks a force nationally.
Horn said he'll waste no time in trying to improve South
Carolina, who finished last season 14-18, has made the NCAA
tournament just once this decade, and won its only regular season
SEC title in 1997.
"We're here to compete and to win big and to win championships
in the SEC and to be relevant nationally," said Horn, who took
Western Kentucky to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament
this season, the Hilltoppers' best NCAA tournament finish in 15
Horn, 35, could make more than $1.3 million a year at South
Carolina, a substantial raise from the $157,000 a year he made at
Horn will be paid $800,000 annually. His five-year contract
includes incentives for winning that could be worth up to an
additional $335,000 per year. He also will be paid $50,000 for
every 1,000 additional season tickets sold over this season's total
of 9,322 tickets.
Horn vowed to fill South Carolina's 18,000-seat arena to
"We're here to win championships and to not make any excuses
and that's what we're going to do," Horn said.
Horn already has three recruiting appointments inside South
Carolina on Wednesday, the day he officially takes over the post
held for seven seasons by Dave Odom, who went 128-104 overall and
41-71 in the SEC in his seven years.
"We are going to put a fence around the state of South
Carolina, and the best players in South Carolina are going to be
recruited to play at the University of South Carolina," Horn said.
Horn's Western Kentucky teams improved nearly every year,
finishing this season with a school record 29 wins. The Hilltoppers
won the Sun Belt Conference title and advanced to the West Regional
semifinals, losing to top-seeded UCLA.
It was their first trip to the Sweet 16 since Horn was a point
guard on a team that beat Memphis and upset Seton Hall to make the
regional semifinals in the 1993 NCAA tournament.
Horn was an assistant at Western Kentucky, Morehead State and
Marquette before becoming the Hilltoppers head coach in 2003,
replacing Dennis Felton, who left for Georgia. Horn went 111-48 in
South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman said he may have
been more impressed with what Horn's players did in the classroom
than on the court. Every player who completed his eligibility at
Western Kentucky earned a degree.
"You're going to have the best of the best reach the primary
goal here at South Carolina and that's to leave here with a
degree," Horn said.
Hyman welcomed Horn, his wife Carla, 7-year-old daughter
Caroline and 4-year-old son Walker with several Gamecock hats and
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)