Chairman Tommy McQueeney has announced that the Medal of Honor Bowl will transition from an all-star format to a traditional NCAA bowl match-up between two Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams.
It will mark the first bowl game with Division I FBS members in the history of the State of South Carolina.
The transition is now possible thanks to the July 10 resolution of the Confederate Flag controversy by the South Carolina Legislature. Positive discussions with the NCAA for this game have developed over the past few weeks, and the Medal of Honor Bowl committee will submit an application to the NCAA for certification. McQueeney chaired the original attempt to secure an NCAA sanctioned bowl game in Charleston in 2005.
The traditional bowl avenue makes much more sense to our community because of our standing as a top travel destination in America," noted McQueeney. "A traditional game has more guarantees, better television coverage, a much more exciting format, and the upside of fans who will travel to support their team. We have an opportunity to deliver more to the economy and to our end charities, most notably the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.”
McQueeney noted that hosting a traditional bowl matchup would also reduce the Medal of Honor Bowl's overall operating budget, which should assure long-term financial stability.
“We have an incredible committee already in place, and we have the confidence and experience of performing at a high level.”
The previously scheduled senior-eligible college all-star game will be postponed to allow for the steps necessary to make the transition to the two-team format. This traditional bowl game will have conference tie-ins with two FBS conferences. The optimum scenario would be to secure teams that have strong local support and recognition. The game is tentatively set for December 18, 2016, at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium, subject to broadcast availability.
The Medal of Honor Bowl will still host its True Blue Gala on January 8, an event that has sold out in its first two years. A dozen or more recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor traditionally attend this event. The Let Freedom Swing golf event scheduled for September 14 at the Country Club of Charleston will also be held as planned. The golf event is sponsored by LimRic Plumbing, Heating and Air.
“This will double our hotel and restaurant needs just for the teams since our all-star rosters were only 53 players each, while college football teams generally carry a travel party of more than 150 players, coaches and support staff, not counting the bands, parents and boosters,” said Executive Director Shelly Gardner. “Most importantly, this bowl format will attract traveling fans of both teams, generating significant visitation and spending at a time of the year when it is needed.”