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  • Brendan Donoghue

High hopes for lasting impact on campus after successful Myrtle Beach Invitational

Just before Coastal Carolina’s campus closed for Thanksgiving break, fans of multiple large universities such as University of Central Florida, Wake Forest University, and University of West Virginia flocked to the HTC center at Coastal Carolina to take in the 2018 Myrtle Beach Invitational tournament.

Matt Hogue, Director of Athletics at Coastal Carolina, gave an overview on how things went during the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

“Executionally, I think everything went very smooth for us,” said Hogue. “We didn’t receive a whole lot of negative feedback, which is unusual because normally someone always wants to tell you how you can get better and improve.”

Hogue went on to praise those involved with the event for their effort and efficiency in ensuring the event ran smoothly.

“There’s a lot of players that have to work together,” said Hogue. “It’s more than what we do in athletics, and all of those folks working together, I think rolled out the red carpet and ensured that this would be a success.”

Hogue’s confidence in the event was not just based off a lack of complaints from fans. While he acknowledges that it is still too early to accurately judge the economic benefits of this season’s tournament, he says he has already begun to see some intangible success.

“[The tournament] provides exposure to our school, it provides us with incredible branding that really doesn’t cost us anything,” said Hogue. “People see our logo constantly. They see our website constantly. They see the name of our school, our arena, really nice exterior shots of our campus.”

Playing host to a tournament that is nationally televised places Coastal Carolina University right into the living rooms of families all across the country. Hogue also recognized that the effects of such marketing may need time to come to full fruition, but that it is a phenomenal starting point.

One of the more prominent pieces of athletic news for the Chanticleers in recent days has been the announcement of college football’s Myrtle Beach Bowl to be played annually at Brooks Stadium on Coastal Carolina University’s campus beginning in 2020.

Hogue expressed, in no uncertain terms, his belief that the success of other athletic events – including the Myrtle Beach Invitational – laid the groundwork for Coastal being awarded with a bowl game, one of college football’s more prominent responsibilities.

Hogue referenced all the actors involved in hosting a successful event, and that the University’s success in their role for basketball tournaments has left an impact.

“Our major role is that we offer the facility and execution support, but the fact that we did that well,” said Hogue. “There’s no question that that’s had an impact on our suitability to host a bowl game.”

The opportunity to host a bowl game is one more step towards national notoriety for Coastal Carolina University, and without the success of events like the Myrtle Beach Invitational, it might not have arrived here as quickly as it did.

Throughout the athletic department, there is a feeling of success and accomplishment related to the Myrtle Beach Invitational Tournament, but there is no feeling of complacency.

Hogue expressed a desire to continue hosting the tournament beyond the current three-year contract.

“You look around the country where they’ve had successful locations, those locations are still going strong,” said Hogue. “I definitely see this as something that could become a long-time fixture.”

Coastal Carolina and the community are now turning in the direction of next year’s Myrtle Beach Invitational. The 2019 Myrtle Beach Invitational will be held at the HTC Center from Nov. 21-22 and Nov. 24. The 2019 Myrtle Beach Invitational field includes Coastal Carolina, current defending national champion Villanova, and Memphis.

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