CofC Athletics Celebrates 25th Anniversary As NCAA Division I Member
25th Anniversary Logo Designed By CofC Director of Operations Josh Bryson
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The 2015-16 school year marks the College of Charleston athletics department’s 25th anniversary as a NCAA Division I member.
To celebrate the anniversary, CofC will honor alumni who played on any of the school’s 1991-92 sports teams in a special halftime recognition ceremony to be held during the men’s basketball game against Drexel on Feb. 6, 2016 at TD Arena. For more information, please contact CofC Associate AD T.J. Isaacs at: email@example.com.
By The Numbers
No. of Varsity Sports
(softball added in 1993, women’s soccer in 1998, women’s track & field in 2003 and beach volleyball in 2012)
No. of Student-Athletes
1991-92: 200 (approx.)
1991-92: Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC)
2015-16: Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)
The Start Of Something New
With the College of Charleston thriving as one of the most prominent programs in both the NAIA and AIAW back in the early 1980s, former CofC President Dr. Harry M. Lightsey spearheaded the move to NCAA Division I status.
The Cougars had already won two national-championship trophies in men’s basketball (1983) and women’s tennis (1983) along with numerous runner-up finishes. And, in a time where other small regional schools similar in size to The College made jumps from NAIA to NCAA Division II, CofC took an even bigger leap.
Lightsey envisioned getting the school’s name out across the state, the South, and eventually, national name recognition which he believed was an indispensable gift if CofC wanted to grow.
Today, seven coaches and members of the athletics department staff, who witnessed the NCAA transitional period first hand and saw the Cougars compete in their first official season in 1991-92, reflect on that growth. Combined, they have given back a total of 215 years of service to the College of Charleston, the athletics program and its student-athletes.
Angelo Anastopoulo (25th Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Director of Tennis (2001-Present)
CofC Women’s Tennis Head Coach (1991-Present)
CofC Men’s Tennis Head Coach (1991-2001)
Back in 1991, Angelo Anastopoulo was hired to coach the College of Charleston men’s and women’s tennis teams – something that is rare nowadays.
“I look back at how hectic it was coaching both teams,” he said. “The travel, answering actual letters in the mail, trying to get directions to away matches, managing a long-distance phone call budget, recruiting without computers, e-mails and internet. I don’t know how I managed it all.”
John Kresse played a dual role as athletics director and men’s basketball coach. Laura Lageman was not only the volleyball coach, but the ticket manager, business manager and NCAA Compliance officer. And, aside from his tennis duties, Anastopoulo served as a substitute cheerleading coach, transporting the cheerleaders to away basketball games.
Because of his experience as a former NCAA Division I tennis player at crosstown rival The Citadel, and during the transition period where the program abided by new and unfamiliar NCAA rules, Anastopoulo was usually a source of advice to administrators at the age of 24.
“We all learned together and we all helped out other coaches,” he said. “Often times, Laura (Lageman) would have to fill-in for me at home matches when I was traveling with one of the other teams. She still has the best winning percentage in CofC Tennis history with a perfect 5-0 mark. Also, in the 90s, we just did what we had to do to stay competitive with every other team in the TAAC. If that meant doubling up on our duties, we did it. Of course, we were younger then and had a lot less gray hairs.”
Twenty-five years later, with the help of assistant coaches through the years and a full-time men’s tennis head coach in Jay Bruner, Anastopoulo has built the tennis programs into annual conference-championship contenders with multiple NCAA Tournament appearances.
“Looking back at the many victories that have been won over major conference schools we never thought we could compete with, has really been a rewarding experience,” he said. “To see that foreshadowing of the success we could have under the leadership of Dr. Harry Lightsey, it was obviously the right move.”
Jamie Futrell (20th Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Women’s Golf Head Coach (1987-Present)
In 1987, Jamie Futrell was hired to coach the women’s golf program after a successful coaching career as baseball and men’s and women’s golf coach at his alma mater Charleston Southern (formerly Baptist College).
“When I first got here, we were the little school that could,” he said. “Twenty-five years later, we are not that little school anymore. The College of Charleston has grown substantially and we fund women’s sports much better, which has translated into success for a lot of our women’s programs. The pool is also a lot larger for recruiting and success (as a Division I member).”
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Futrell and his teams practiced at Patriots Point and on Kiawah Island until a more permanent home course was established at The Links at Stono Ferry. However, all of the area golf courses were supportive of both the men’s and women’s golf programs, if they needed a place to practice during the transition.
Like Anastopoulo, Futrell recalls the double duty of each coach and staff member wearing several different hats to the help the athletics program as a whole be successful. He not only coached the women’s golf team, but also worked game management for men’s and women’s basketball at the old John Kresse Arena.
His best reflections of that particular time was the tight-knit family atmosphere and bi-monthly staff meetings being held in the old Cougar Club room with the entire athletics department seated on three worn-out couches. Futrell also remembers popping popcorn in the back room for Cougar Club pre-game functions compared to the concession stands that produces popcorn for thousands of fans at TD Arena today.
Otto German (42nd Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Assistant AD / Director of NCAA Compliance (1992-Present)
CofC Assistant Dean of Admissions (1986-92)
CofC Assistant Director of Admissions (1979-86)
CofC Assistant Director of Student Activities (1976-79)
CofC Assistant Director of Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs (1973-76)
CofC Men’s Basketball Letterman (1970-73)
He may not look it, but Otto German is the longest-tenured current staff member of the bunch with his combined 42 years of service on campus and the athletics department. A four-year men’s basketball letterwinner from 1970-73 under former head coach Alan LeForce, he was the second-ever African-American student-athlete to receive a full basketball scholarship at The College.
“I’ve seen so many different things happen to The College over the years,” German said. “Making the move from NAIA to NCAA Division I was a very big step for us. I was really excited about it, because I saw the potential for growth athletically. We had been known over the years as a great academic institution. When we hired John Kresse and made the move, we felt we had done all there was to do at that level and it was time to take the next step and put ourselves in a position where we would be playing with the big boys. Since then, we have proven we can compete at this level.”
German has been the school’s lone compliance officer since CofC became a Division I program in 1991-92. He says there have been some slight bumps in the road, but under his watch, ‘we have avoided any major infractions.’ As a former student-athlete, he has seen the men’s game grow tremendously.
“The science of the game has changed immensely,” German said. “A lot of preparation goes into getting our student-athletes ready and able to compete today. That’s the biggest change I’ve seen the most.”
JOHN KRESSE (37th Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Special Assistant to the Athletics Director (2002-Present)
CofC Men’s Basketball Head Coach (1979-2002)
An icon synonymous with the College of Charleston, legendary head coach John Kresse is one of the greatest to ever coach the game. In 23 seasons with the Cougars from 1979-2002, Kresse compiled an impressive 560-143 overall winning record (.797) and led his team to the 1983 NAIA National Championship title – a feat he still remembers as his No. 1 coaching accomplishment to date. He still owns the 11th-highest winning percentage in college basketball history (all division) and his NCAA Division I coaching record of 258-64 (.801) ranks as the fifth-best winning percentage in Division I. Only the late Jerry Tarkanian (20th year) won his 500th career game in fewer seasons than Kresse (21st year).
When CofC moved to NCAA Division I status in 1989, Kresse and his players flourished, making four NCAA Tournament appearances and two NIT appearances. Known as “Giant Killers,” the Cougars defeated seemingly unstoppable teams in Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia Tech, and were recognized as the most successful team to ever make the leap from NAIA to NCAA Division I.
“With the growth and popularity, prestige and enrollment of our college in the early 90s, it was a natural move to a higher level of athletics, NCAA Division I,” he said. “We possessed the academic reputation, a beautiful campus and a terrific city. It was definitely time to project more of a regional and national image for all of our sports teams. Our basketball team had done well in the NAIA, now it was time to step-up and project well in NCAA Division I hoops.”
LAURA LAGEMAN (27th Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Associate AD / Senior Woman Administrator (1992-Present)
CofC Volleyball Head Coach (1989-95)
Laura Lageman currently serves as Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator at the College of Charleston. Her main responsibilities include the supervision of 14 teams as well as sports medicine, strength and conditioning, academics and finance.
She joined the staff in 1989 when she took over the reins of the volleyball program. An NAIA program prior to her arrival, Lageman oversaw the two-year transition to the NCAA Division l level in 1991. She continued to serve as head coach for five more seasons as the Cougars joined the Trans America Athletic Conference, now the Atlantic Sun, compiling a 188-92 overall coaching record.
“The volleyball program was already well established and successful in the NAIA,” Lageman said. "But, the transition to Division l was a giant step-up in competition as you went from competing against in-state rivals, Limestone and Newberry, to competing against Clemson, South Carolina and Virginia Tech in my first year."
During her time on the sidelines, the competition at CofC improved immediately, while the funding for scholarships and operating increased at a much slower rate. Recruiting also changed drastically as coaches now needed to look outside of the state and region to recruit quality student-athletes.
“The vision to move to Division l allowed CofC’s athletics department to grow, add several new sports and opportunities for women and allow Cougar fans to watch and cheer regionally-and nationally-elite competition,” she said. “For those student-athletes, who played during the transition, I applaud their love of the game and pride they showed representing the College of Charleston. We are successful today, because of their accomplishments and the foundation they set during those transitional years.”
RALPH LUNDY II (29th Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Men’s Soccer Head Coach (1987-Present)
Ralph Lundy II began his coaching career at Erskine College in 1976. He since has led the College of Charleston men’s soccer program to 19 winning seasons in his tenure.
Next to Anastopoulo and Futrell, Lundy is the only other current head coach, who has seen the Cougars compete in both divisions and all three conferences – the TAAC, Southern Conference and CAA.
Since the program’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I status in 1991, he has led CofC to five conference championships and five NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1995, College of Charleston earned its first national ranking, debuting at No. 17 in the Soccer America Poll.
“Twenty-five years ago, President Harry Lightsey was the man who saw the brilliance in bringing the College of Charleston to the Division I level,” he said. “When I first got the job, Harry told me to schedule the best competition. We immediately put Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wake Forest and Clemson on our schedule the first couple of years and showed our program could compete with the best. We have laid a great foundation over these first 25 years that will last for many years to come.”
This fall, Lundy earned his 300th career victory at College of Charleston. He currently ranks fifth nationally among active NCAA Division I coaches with over 430+ career coaching wins.
BOB STORY (35th Year at College of Charleston)
CofC Varsity Equestrian Head Coach (1989-Present)
CofC Club Equestrian Head Coach (1980-89)
Bob Story became the head coach of the College of Charleston equestrian program in 1980 when it was a club team on campus. It was later elevated to a varsity program in 1989 when former President Harry Lightsey tapped equestrian to be the team to bring CofC into NCAA compliance.
The Cougars are currently members of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). They have since established the program as one of the nation’s best competing at nationals 25 consecutive times since 1983 and honing 19 individual national champions including Eliza Hay winning the Cacchione Cup, the sport’s highest honor bestowed upon the nation’s best collegiate rider in 2014-15.
The program’s facility, Storybook Farm, was built in 1985 and is owned and operated by Story and his wife, Alicia. With the sport emerging on a national level, former College of Charleston President Leo Higdon took an interest in the program as it consistently beat teams such as South Carolina, Clemson and Florida and were covered in The Post & Courier on a weekly basis. With that success over bigger schools, it made sense to make the move to Division I, Story said.
“The College of Charleston has gone through leaps and bounds since I’ve been here,” he said. “(Former) President Higdon not only made a huge commitment to The College, but our equestrian team. My wife and I decided to shut down our family business and dedicate our facility to CofC.
“We knew the move to Division I was going to be a good thing coming. The biggest change from then and now is that there are more things in place for our student-athletes to be successful – sports medicine, academic services and sports performance. The move also allowed us to increase our roster size, grow the sport and attract athletes, who help us consistently compete for national championships.”