Ray Tanner, interested in becoming an athletic director, frequently engaged former South Carolina AD Eric Hyman in chats about multi-task administration. Chad Holbrook, one of the top recruiters in college baseball and a big part of the Gamecocks’ back-to-back national titles, was groomed to take over for Tanner as head coach.
The decisions were relatively easy for USC president Harris Pastides and a search committee. Tanner officially will be introduced as the school’s new athletic director today at 2 p.m., two weeks after Hyman bolted for Texas A&M.
Holbrook replaces Tanner in the dugout, with a news conference set for Monday.
Tanner enjoys unprecedented Gamecock Nation popularity after the 2010 and 2011 national championships plus a third straight College World Series finals appearance last month. He quickly emerged as the people’s choice for AD after Hyman resigned.
But Hyman declined to officially support Tanner’s candidacy during a Columbia television interview Wednesday. Hyman also repeated that athletic director decisions are not as simple as the “black and white” world of coaching moves.
“In administration, you’ve got a lot more gray area,” Hyman told WLTX-TV. “You’ve got to understand that, and I think (Tanner) understands that. But understanding that and doing it are different things. As an athletic director, you have so many stakeholders. I don’t want to get into specific people (at South Carolina) but … Ray understands the system here and that’s a benefit.”
Hyman pointed out that the athletic department “is not broke.”
The baseball program is booming. Hired by former South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee after the 1996 season, Tanner went 738-316 in 16 years as head coach. South Carolina made six College World Series appearances under Tanner.
Only June Raines has more South Carolina coaching wins, 763 from 1977-1996.
Holbrook was Tanner’s top assistant coach the last four seasons. In the same capacity at North Carolina, Holbrook helped the Tar Heels reach the College World Series three years in a row, 2006-2008.
His latest recruiting success was a cast of newcomers who contributed heavily to South Carolina’s 2012 return to Omaha, Neb. The group includes Joey Pankake, Grayson Greiner, Jordan Montgomery, Evan Beal, LB Dantzler, Tanner English, Chase Vergason, Conner Bright, Kyle Martin and TJ Costen.
Tanner made $650,000 as head baseball coach this year and probably will get only a slight salary bump as athletic director, an athletic department source said Thursday. Hyman was making $504,000 in base salary and reportedly will nearly double that at Texas A&M.
Holbrook was making $176,000 in base salary as an assistant coach.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff.