COLUMBIA — Insisting that “winning is contagious” and lauding Ray Tanner’s “vision and leadership skills,” University of South Carolina president Dr. Harris Pastides on Friday officially promoted the esteemed baseball coach to athletic director.
By the numbers$675,000. Tanner’s annual AD salary, a slight paycut from his baseball pay13. Consecutive NCAA Tournament trips for the USC baseball program, best in the SECBack-to-back. College World Series titles in 2010 and 2011Six. Years Tanner spent as an assistant athletic director at N.C. StateFootball coach Steve Spurrier: “I applaud the choice of Ray Tanner as athletics director. I believe the President (Harris Pastides) made an excellent decision. Our athletics department is in very good hands with Ray Tanner. I look forward to working with Ray and President Pastides for several years to come.”Men’s basketball coach Frank Martin: “As concerned as I was the day Eric Hyman decided to leave, I am even more excited for President Pastides’ decision to hire Ray Tanner as our next athletics director.”
Never mind that such job vaults are rare these days, or that the $675,000 salary is a slight pay cut from what Tanner made as a two-time College World Series winner. Both sides are delighted, as were supporters sporting “Tanner Time” stickers at a Williams-Brice Stadium news conference.
Pastides said the search committee did not consider a candidate outside the athletic department, and a Board of Trustees member said associate athletic director Charles Waddell was the only other person interviewed.
Tanner can’t wait to start.
“It is imperative that we stay on track, as we compete in the SEC and nationally,” he said.
Tanner, 54, went 738-316 in 16 seasons as baseball coach with six College World Series trips, including the last three in a row. He replaces Eric Hyman, who resigned two weeks ago to become the athletic director at Southeastern Conference newcomer Texas A&M.
“This might be the biggest change for me, to put the necktie on on a regular basis,” Tanner said, looking down at his garnet and black tie.
Tanner confirmed the second worst-kept secret in town: that associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Chad Holbrook officially will be named head baseball coach on Monday.
An 11 a.m. news conference is scheduled.
Assistant coach Sammy Esposito will move into Holbrook’s No. 2 spot.
Former LSU athletic director Skip Bertman, a longtime friend of Tanner’s, is one of the few baseball coaches to make the CEO transition.
But Tanner has been aiming for several years. He formally approached Pastides two years ago and said he was “looking for a change.”
When Hyman resigned, Tanner jumped.
“I immediately approached Dr. Pastides to inform him of my sincere interest and desire to serve our student-athletes, our coaches, our alumni and Gamecock Nation,” Tanner said.
Pastides said Tanner’s six years of management experience as an assistant athletic director at N.C. State are a major plus, blending well with Tanner’s familiarity with USC.
“I wanted someone who could take a management system put in place by Eric Hyman and continue to improve and perfect it,” Pastides said.
Pastides also likes Tanner’s potential in “raising funds and raising friends” for South Carolina’s sports programs.
Tanner will make as much money as he did as baseball coach, but without the performance incentives.
His $675,000 per year contract includes a $375,000 base salary, $150,000 in supplemental compensation, $150,000 in media/ personal services compensation, an automobile and a country club membership.
The buyout clause is $500,000 per year for remaining years on the contract, for USC and for Tanner. Tanner must pay if he takes another college coaching or administrative job.
Tanner announced two staff alterations Friday.
Waddell is now deputy director of the athletic department. Kevin O’Connell goes from executive associate athletic director to chief operating officer.
Hyman hired USC’s former chief operating officer, Marcy Girton, at Texas A&M.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.