Wofford College is gearing up for what is quite possibly the most significant event ever hosted at the school.
The stage is set and just three days remain until the CBS News/ National Journal Republican presidential debate is held.
Saturday's 8 p.m. debate, which will be the first of three debates to be held in the state, will represent the first time Wofford has hosted a national debate, Wofford spokeswoman Laura Corbin said. The debate, which is the first to be televised nationally, is expected to bring a lot of media attention to the small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, S.C.
"We have not hosted a national event such as this debate," Corbin said.
"We have hosted a variety of presidents and presidential candidates," she said, acknowledging visits by former president Gerald Ford, and then vice-president and future president George H.W. Bush.
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CBS News Anchor Scott Pelley and Major Garrett of the National Journal will moderate the event to be held just hours after the crowds clear the stands at Wofford's home football game against Georgia Southern.
In order to get ready for the event, Corbin said the athletics department had to do a little bit of juggling.
Thousands of fans are expected to attend Saturday's game as the Terriers take on the Eagles. To allow for the parking lots to be cleared in time for the debate, the college opted to move kickoff at Gibbs Stadium to 1 p.m.
But that wasn't the only athletic event affected. Corbin said that the debate necessitated a change for the school's basketball programs, due to the usage of the Benjamin Johnson Arena.
A women's basketball home-opener on Nov. 11, will instead be played at Kennesaw State.
Saturday's volleyball match between Wofford and Georgia Southern was moved to nearby Converse College. The match begins at 6 p.m.
Sunday's athletic events, which include a volleyball match and a men's basketball game, will be played as originally scheduled, as debate staging will be cleared from the arena by 11 a.m., Corbin said.
"The Wofford athletics department and the coaches and student-athletes have worked hard to accommodate the debate and preparations for it, understanding the importance of this high-visibility opportunity for the college on the national stage," Corbin said.
Wofford College itself was given roughly 100 tickets for the debate, Corbin said. Some of those tickets were given to members of the board of trustees, while about half were provided to students.
"We also will be providing an alternate viewing location on campus, but that location has not been determined yet," Corbin said.
Meanwhile, a pair of forums will be held at the college centered on the upcoming debate prior to the actual event.
A faculty forum called “Contemporary Challenges for U.S. Foreign Policy” will be held from 7 to 8:15 tonight in Leonard Auditorium, which will be moderated by Byron R. McCane, the Albert C. Outler Professor of Religion.
Also, "Race to the White House: Rhetoric and Democracy,” another faculty forum, will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, also in Leonard Auditorium. The forum will be moderated by William E. DeMars, professor and chair of the department of government. Wofford faculty participants will be joined by visiting scholar James Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia.
The debate itself will last for 90 minutes. Officials with the SCGOP have not confirmed a definitive format for the debate, but did say they anticipate all GOP candidates would participate.