CLEMSON - Given 10 days to peruse the Clemson baseball program, athletic director Dan Radakovich officially has chosen to stay the course with Hall of Fame head coach Jack Leggett.
Jack is back, for his 22nd season as head coach and with the blessing of his second-year supervisor in a joint announcement released Tuesday evening.
Following "several productive conversations with Coach Leggett" and thorough scrutiny involving confidants inside and out of Clemson, Radakovich assured restless fans of the backsliding Tigers - sans a College World Series appearance, or so much as an NCAA regional title, for the fourth consecutive year - things are looking up and a coaching move wasn't necessary.
"The evaluation showed reasons for optimism moving forward," Radakovich said in the statement, "and we look forward to the 2015 season under the leadership of Coach Leggett."
In his five-sentence statement, Leggett twice referenced Clemson's passionate fan base, with whom he had a strenuous relationship during a 36-25 campaign ending May 31 with a 6-4 loss to Xavier in the Nashville Regional.
"I truly appreciate the support and passion of our baseball community and we all want to win at the highest level, especially the coaches and players in the program," Leggett stated. "We did not have the kind of year that I had hoped for and it is my responsibility to lead us back to the standards we have set for Clemson baseball."
After losing to South Carolina for the 22nd time in 30 tries March 1, Leggett chided reporters, "You guys are the ones who get all excited about all that ... I'm proud of our program. Our fans should be proud of our program."
Leggett also told The Post and Courier on May 17, when asked about fans angling for change, "The only fans we have are the ones that believe in our program and believe in our team. Those are the only ones I'm ever concerned about."
On Monday, Leggett said in the statement, "Clemson is a truly special place. Working together with our passionate fans, all pulling in the same direction, I have no doubt we can return quickly to the success we have become accustomed to at Clemson."
Radakovich promised improvements, "some which will be visible and others behind the scenes." He alluded to previous commitments to facility upgrades like a stadium addition behind the first-base line with player amenities.
Radakovich also reiterated participation in the Academic Common Market assisting out-of-state players with paying tuition since NCAA Division I baseball programs are allowed a total of 11.7 scholarships.
With those pledges in place, Radakovich stuck by Leggett.
"One of the factors for a positive outlook for the program is the culture that Coach Leggett has created for his players," Radakovich said. "While every program not achieving its desired results has questions, I firmly believe following the research done, that the culture in the baseball program is solid."
Leggett's contract, which has two years remaining, is not being extended. Leggett, 60, will make $400,000 in base salary and supplemental compensation through June 2015, and his deal expires after the 2016 season.
Leggett has a 1,300-751-1 record in 35 years as a head coach at Clemson, Western Carolina and Vermont, including a 923-451-1 mark (67.2 winning percentage) and six College World Series trips in 21 years with the Tigers. But Clemson is just 154-95 (61.8 percent) with one host regional and no super regional berths in the past four years.
"I have heard from many supporters during the past season, and we will continue to strive to provide a first-class experience and championship-caliber baseball program worthy of their enthusiasm," Radakovich said. "The expectation to compete for championships on an annual basis, host NCAA Regionals and advance deep in the postseason is not changing."
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