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Clemson AD pledges support for baseball coach Monte Lee

MonteLee.BH.jpg

Clemson's Monte Lee was unable to guide the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his five-year tenure. Clemson Athletics/Provided.

CLEMSON — Clemson director of athletics Dan Radakovich on May 27 expressed support for baseball coach Monte Lee in the wake of the team's 25-27 season.

The 2021 year was historically bad for the Tigers, leading some to speculate on Lee's job status. Clemson finished under-.500 for the first time since 1957 and is likely to have its 11-season NCAA Tournament streak snapped.

Radakovich told The Post and Courier there is "reason to be optimistic about the future" of the program under Lee.

"We all have high expectations for our baseball program, and no one understands those better than Monte Lee," Radakovich said. "As we do each season, we will evaluate all areas of the program, and I am looking forward to meeting with Monte on how we can continue to support him and this proud program."

The Tigers' season ended May 26 in a contest that followed a different script from much of the team's previous games. Lee's team all season long struggled to close games, but in the final game of ACC Tournament pool play, No. 11-seeded Clemson scored all of its runs after the third inning to pick up the upset 11-5 win over No. 2-seeded Georgia Tech.

Afterwards Lee commended his team's fight, but lamented a season that fell short of expectations and took the blame.

"I'm accountable for what happened this season," Lee said. "I certainly hope to be back, and if I am back then we're going to work really hard to turn it around and get these guys ready to have a nice run next year."

The Tigers have the No. 10 ranked recruiting class in the nation for 2021, per perfectgame.org, and the No. 15 class for 2022. The task for Lee will be turning the talent into wins.

Lee signed with Clemson on June 18, 2015 after six seasons at College of Charleston, his alma mater. The Tigers hosted NCAA Regionals each of his first three seasons and won the ACC Tournament in 2018. 

After a 35-win season in 2019, the Tigers got off to a 14-3 start in 2020 before COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the year. Expectations were down a bit for 2021, with Lee fielding a young team, but the final results were a surprise for a fan base that's gotten accustomed to winning.

Radakovich appears confident that Lee will be able to turn things around. But the veteran coach acknowledged he needs to "look at myself in the mirror."

"I've failed our club," Lee said May 25. "I'm going to do everything I can to try to fix some of these issues. I need to do a better job as the head coach and the leader of the program."

Two seasons remain on the contract extension Lee signed in Oct. of 2017 worth $2.85 million.

Follow Joshua Needelman on Twitter at @joshneedelman.

Joshua Needelman covers Clemson for The Post and Courier. He's a Long Island, N.Y., native and a University of Maryland alum. He's won national and state awards in sports and feature writing, and for reasons unclear he still roots for the New York Knicks.

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