Outside TD Arena Tony & His Family Are Humble Business Owners
Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The legendary ‘Man in Black’ is alive and well and he strolls along the sidelines at the TD Arena down on Meeting Street. No, the late great country musician Johnny Cash isn’t making appearances at the home of the College of Charleston Cougars, but his heir apparent, low country resident Tony Gianoukos is keeping Cash’ spirit and signature look alive, while actively harassing opposing players and referees during CofC men’s basketball games.
Gianoukos is known and recognized to CofC fans at TD Arena with his signature look. His vocal disdain for officials and his constant pacing have become a tradition during men’s games, but it is his attire that is often topic of conversation. For a long as anyone can remember Tony has dressed in black from head to toe. Shirt, pants, belt, socks and shoes, all distinctively black. And with college basketball mostly played during cooler winter months, Tony often tops off his attire with a long black coat.
A native of Charleston and a 1981 CofC graduate, Tony says his regular wardrobe is as much a trademark as it a style preference. “I think people can tell right away, I’m no fashion guru. I’m not trying to make a statement by any means. Basically I just love all black. Fortunately it’s the one color you can get away with wearing all year round.”
Tony started wearing his signature color back in the late 1980’s. “It’s been right at 35 years now. Actually it’s so long I’ve long, I’ve forgotten why I started wearing all black. But once I did, it became a part of me and at some point I decided there was no reason to change it up. Safe enough to say, I love the color black.”
He says it makes it easier for family and friends to buy for him. “If they are going to get me clothes they know by now that it has to be black.” Any other color gets shelved. “Used to be people would get me something in blue or white or another crazy color, I’m not sure why. Maybe they’re trying to mess with me. I’ve had clothes in my closet for two or three years with tags still on them. The gifts I don’t return just pile up in my closet or I’ll give them away.”
His appreciation for black goes beyond his wardrobe. “I surround myself with the color.” Currently Tony has several cars that come in black. “Most of the time I drive a black Cadillac CTS-V. I had a 1999 black Viper that I recently gave to my nephew, and I still own a 1981 Trans Am.” The Trans Am is his ‘Smokey & the Bandit Car’. “I got that one not long after I graduated college.” His latest car breaks the trend. “I just purchased a 2020 Shelby Mustang GT. Something about the black didn’t look right to me, so it’s silver.” He drives a Ford Explorer as well that is not black.
After receiving a degree in biology from CofC, Tony had plans on becoming a veterinarian. “I applied at couple of schools but couldn’t get in.” He spent a few years working in warehousing before he and his family decided to open their own company, ATS Logistics. “We threw open the doors back in 1986. Basically it was my two brothers (Jimmie & Andy) and my dad. And now we have several other family members working there.”
The company has grown from a location off Remount Road, to a larger state of the art facility the brothers built off West Montague near Dorchester Road. From vans to a fleet of semi tractor trailers, ATS has become a well respected transportation, warehousing, and freight management service company. More than 35 years later Tony says the good Lord has blessed the family business. “God has been good to us. The business has exceeded our expectations. Even in tough times we’ve managed to do okay.” The Gianoukos family has their name displayed at TD Arena. “We’ve got our name on the wall when you come in and at the weight room.”
The Gianoukos’ family is well respected members of the College of Charleston community. With several family members having attended the school, the Gianoukos’ have become strong financial supporters. “My middle brother Andy graduated from College of Charleston, and I have a nephew who got a degree from University of South Carolina and CofC. We like to support the school, not only by attending games but some of the sports programs.”
Tony’s oldest brother Jimmy graduated from USC. “We do have a connection to South Carolina. We have season tickets to football games and I’ve been to a couple of basketball games.” But make no mistake Tony’s first allegiance is to CofC. “I grew up a big Missouri fan and I follow the Gamecocks, but College of Charleston is my team.”
Although he appreciates most sports, Tony’s central focus is Charleston’s men’s basketball. “Oddly enough I attended here from 1977 until 1981 and never saw a game. I became a fan in the early 1990’s, especially with all the hoopla surrounding Coach Kresse.” Tony counts CofC legend, John Kresse as a friend. “One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, really genuine. Whenever we run in to each other he’ll ask about my family. His personality extends way beyond the game.”
Tony admits he welcomes each new basketball season. “We’ve got season tickets. Most of our family attend games, and when one us can’t, we’ll usually bring a friend or customer.” Rather than frolic around the arena Tony likes to get there about an hour early and start his pre-game ritual. “I don’t get into the whole social aspect of the game. I like to be courtside when the teams are warming up. That’s when I can start getting into the heads of the opposing players.”
Psyching the visiting team is just one of his regular habits. “I do my best to pump our players up.” Oftentimes Tony feels he is the sixth player on the team. “I’ll do whatever I can or whatever I can get away with to help give our guys the advantage.” He says that he does it all with good intention and only likes to get caught up in the excitement Cougar basketball presents. “The arena is my stage and when I’m out there for a game, I’m in my element.”
His vocal concerns go beyond the visiting players. Tony is not afraid to lend his two cents to the referees, especially if he thinks they are constantly missing calls. “It’s all in good clean fun. Most of the referees know me and put up with my antics.” Tony recalls being ejected from a game once or twice. “That’s been a long time ago. All the referees know me now, and we get along just fine.”
Behind his dark exterior and solitary nature lies a Tony most probably don’t know. “Obviously the family does a lot for the school and we have a few charities we’re involved in.” Tony’s compassion goes even further. “I do a good bit with Special Olympics. I’ve got a good buddy I spend time with several times a week. We go bowling on Wednesdays, and have dinner at Hachiya after. My family and I don’t publicize things such as those things, because we don’t want the attention. We’ve been blessed and we just want to give back.”
For those who only judge Tony Gianoukos by his animated courtside manner, they are underestimating the man in black completely. Outside TD Arena, and away from College of Charleston men’s basketball he is a mild mannered gentleman who often goes out of his way to take care of others, and as I have witnessed he has many friends in the community. The low country and Holy City Sinner salutes Tony G. and the Gianoukos family for their commitment to the College of Charleston men’s basketball program, the school, family, and their vow to make a difference in the community. Thank you Tony, for all you do, you represent the Holy City in a positive light. He appropriately adds, “Go Cougars!’