Lowcountry Classic back 'with a purpose'

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


SC State-N.C. A&T game will highlight weekend of festivities

In addition to the football game, other events surrounding the Lowcountry Classic include a celebrity golf tournament, the Chairman's reception and silent auction at the Charleston Marriott, a Seafood Jam hosted by the South Carolina Alumni Association at the Charleston Yacht Club, the Step Extravaganza at The Citadel's McAlister Field House and a college recruitment fair at Burke High School.The signature event of the Lowcountry Classic II is a football game between South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T on Nov. 17 at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium, but that's not why organizers call it an "Event with a Purpose."

The game and surrounding festivities are designed to raise funds for need-based scholarships at South Carolina State, and organizers hope this year's classic will bring in more than $250,000.

"We've already raised more than $155,000," said Lowcountry Classic II chairman Maurice Washington, who is also chairman of the school's board of trustees. "We've got a goal of $1 million in five years, but we think we can reach it in three."

South Carolina State battled Bethune-Cookman last year during the inaugural Lowcountry Classic at Johnson-Hagood Stadium.

Not bad for an event that was never really intended for Charleston.

Organizers wanted to hold last year's inaugural event on South Carolina State's Orangeburg campus, but uncertainties surrounding the completion date of stadium renovations forced them to look elsewhere.

"Lowcountry Classic I was a tremendous success considering we pulled it together in 30 days," Washington said. "We were putting in new Field Turf and a scoreboard, and we weren't sure they would be ready. We called The Citadel. The Citadel and the city and the county accommodated us. After that, we said, 'Hey, why not bring it back again?' "

And that's just fine with Charleston.

"It's a perfect fit," said Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. "The thought of it being an annual event makes it even more thrilling and even more worthwhile."

The money raised for scholarships comes from corporate sponsorships, not ticket sales, although the game is fast approaching a sellout.

In addition to the football game, other events surrounding the Lowcountry Classic include a celebrity golf tournament, the Chairman's reception and silent auction at the Charleston Marriott, a Seafood Jam hosted by the South Carolina Alumni Association at the Charleston Yacht Club, the Step Extravaganza at The Citadel's McAlister Field House and a college recruitment fair at Burke High School.

"It's important to us that we ensure that every student, no matter what their socio-economic status, have the opportunity to pursue an education at South Carolina State," Washington said. "Charleston is a wonderful and supportive community. It supports good causes. If you have a cause that is worthy of its support, this community never fails to rally behind it and that is exactly what has happened with the Lowcountry Classic."

Charles Bennett (cbennett@postandcourier.com)