A campaign by Citadel fans and alumni to return the military school's Corps of Cadets to the home side of Johnson Hagood Stadium for football games has proven successful.
"We won!" one fan posted on a message board after the school announced Monday that the cadets will be seated on the west (home) side of the stadium for games starting next season.
"After considering the logistical issues and determining that we can accommodate season ticket holders, we decided to move the Corps back because of the benefits of creating a livelier atmosphere for our fans," athletic director Larry Leckonby said in the school's announcement.
Cadets had been seated on the east side of the stadium, behind the opposing team's bench, since renovations to Johnson Hagood were completed in 2006. Some Citadel fans and alumni argued that moving the cadets back to the home side would energize the game-day atmosphere and help the Corps feel more connected to fans and alumni and to the team.
Alumni flooded the administration and school's Board of Visitors with e-mails and messages supporting the move.
"The move should provide the Corps with a more enjoyable game day experience while also allowing more camaraderie and connection with fans and alumni," Citadel president Lt. Gen. John Rosa said.
The news was greeted enthusiastically by Citadel football players.
"I'm super excited about it," said defensive tackle Justin Oxendine, a rising senior. "I think they will make the atmosphere so much better over there. They will help the crowd get into it, help give us that 12th-man advantage. Quite often, you'll see people sitting down on the home side at a major point in the game. I think with the Corps on that side, they will get them up and get them loud."
Oxendine said sitting on the home side will also make the cadets feel more a part of the game-day proceedings.
"I think there is a certain detachment with them sitting over there," he said. "They don't get to interact with the alumni as much. We'll get to see how the old Corps interacts with the new Corps and talk about how they've gone through the same things."
The move will not displace any current season ticket holders on the west side, the school's statement said.
Before the stadium was renovated in 2004-05, cadets sat on the home side near the south end zone. During the 2004-05 seasons, while construction was on-going, the cadets sat in temporary bleachers on the west (home) side while fans were seated on the east side. Starting in 2006, fans and season ticket holders returned to the west side while the Corps of Cadets moved across the stadium to the east side, where they've been ever since.