College Sports

George Rogers’ USC experience fuels lasting desire to give back

George Rogers, South Carolina’s only Heisman Trophy winner (1980) and former NFL running back with the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins, says his memory isn’t what it used to be, likely in part due to hits he sustained running the football.

But Rogers, 62, never forgets where he came from; in 1977, he left Duluth, Georgia, to become the first in his family to attend college and ultimately earn a degree from USC.

That history is the primary motivation behind Rogers’ annual charity auction and celebrity golf tournament, now in its 28th year, which are set for Sunday night at the My Carolina Alumni Center (900 Senate Street) and on Monday at Fort Jackson Golf Course, respectively.

The George Rogers Foundation of the Carolinas stages the two-day fundraiser to support its mission of providing scholarship aid to first-generation college students at USC. Proceeds from the event also go to an endowment of a $75,000 scholarship for former Gamecocks athletes who left school without a degree.

“Twenty-eight years,” Rogers said with a touch of amazement in his voice. “It’s amazing how the people of South Carolina have been so good about giving back.” Of the gala/golf format, he said with a laugh, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

One of the attractions of the event is the lineup of former athletes and celebrities who return each year to support Rogers. This year’s lineup includes former Redskins player Mark May, former Saints player (and Rogers teammate) Rickey Jackson, Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George (Ohio State) and former Nebraska star Johnny Rodgers. Invited but not confirmed as of earlier this week are former Saints/Pittsburgh Steelers player Louis Lipps and former S.C. State and Redskins receiver Charley Brown.

Also scheduled to appear are former college basketball and NBA stars Al Wood (North Carolina), Gus Williams (Southern California) and Columbia native Alex English. More recent standouts include former Gamecocks Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore. Invited but unconfirmed are former USC stars Corey Miller and Willie Scott.

Sunday’s gala and auction will open doors at the alumni center at 5 p.m., with athletes available for autographs and photos until 6:30, when the auction begins. Food and drinks will be served and dress is business casual.

Registration for the golf tournament begins at 8 a.m. Monday with a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start and awards following play. Lunch, refreshments and gift bags will be presented to players.

Rogers, an avid golfer, will not compete in the captain’s-choice event, but will station himself at one of Fort Jackson’s par-3 holes and participate in a “Beat the Pro” (closest to the pin) competition to raise more funds for scholarships, he said.

Admission to the gala is $60/person or $100/couple, with table donations also available. Four-person golf teams are $1,500, and sponsorships are available. Contact Michele Beagle at (770) 687-1538 or email for more information or to register, or visit the website, PayPal donations may be sent to