University of South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner is in his fifth year guiding the fortunes of the Gamecocks’ athletics programs. After a long and highly successful career as Carolina’s baseball coach, Tanner officially began his new duties on Aug. 2, 2012.
Under Tanner’s watch, Gamecock student-athletes have achieved tremendous success in intercollegiate athletic competition, in the classroom and the community.
During the past two academic years, Gamecock student-athletes have led all schools in the SEC Academic Honor Roll, earning more than 700 recognitions. Carolina student-athletes have earned a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or better in 18 consecutive semesters.
In the last four academic years, the Gamecocks have won a national championship (equestrian), five SEC regular season and tournament championships and its 686 points in the 2015-16 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup All-Sports Standings is the most since 2002-03 (701 points).
In 2015-16, Carolina also claimed the inaugural Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series, sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. The series consists of athletic, community service and academic points in head-to-head matchups against Clemson.
The Gamecocks have had 15 teams finish in the Top 10, 29 finish in the Top 25 with student-athletes earning 127 All-SEC and 205 All-America honors during the last four years.
Carolina student-athletes accomplished these academic and athletic feats while performing more than 9,000 hours of community service, breaking an athletics department record for three straight years.
In September 2014, Tanner spearheaded the development of “The Gamecock Student-Athlete Promise,” a document that showcases the depth and breadth of the commitments the South Carolina Athletics Department has made to its student-athletes.
As part of the document, USC became the first school in the SEC to guarantee four-year scholarships for all qualifying sports. It also offers former student-athletes the opportunity to return back to campus to complete their undergraduate degree as part of the “Gamecock Degree Completion Program.”
As part of giving Gamecock student-athletes a “championship experience” at USC, the commitment to develop the finest facilities in the nation continues.
Since taking on the athletics director role at USC, Tanner has overseen construction and facility renovation projects such as Springs-Brooks Plaza and the Bignon Game Day Center, Gamecock Football Indoor Practice Facility, USC Soccer Complex, Weems Baskin Outdoor Track, Wheeler Beach Volleyball facility and locker rooms in Carolina Natatorium. Plans are also underway for a new football operations building and upgrades to Founders Park.
Tanner completed his first year as a member of the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee and is scheduled to be on the committee through the 2019 baseball season.
A dedicated community leader whose charitable organization, The Ray Tanner Foundation, has made a difference in many South Carolina families, a three-time National Coach of the Year and Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, Tanner completed 16 years as head coach at the University of South Carolina, establishing one of the premier programs in college baseball prior to being named AD. He led the Garnet & Black to two NCAA Division I Baseball Championships, a pair of national runner-up finishes, six College World Series appearances, three SEC championships, six SEC Eastern division titles, a SEC tournament crown and 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Under the direction of Tanner, South Carolina’s postseason success from 2010-2012 is arguably the greatest run in collegiate baseball history. In the three-year span, the Gamecocks established NCAA records with 22 consecutive postseason wins and 12 consecutive wins in the College World Series. The Gamecocks won the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 2010 and 2011 with a national runner-up finish in 2012. South Carolina’s 30-4 (.882) record over that three-year period in the NCAA Tournament is the fifth best three-year postseason record in NCAA history.
In addition, the 2012 CWS trip marked the sixth time in 11 years that South Carolina had reached Omaha. No Division I baseball team made more appearances than the Gamecocks over the 11-year span.
For all of his accolades, Tanner's uniform No. 1 was retired and the street outside Carolina Stadium was renamed in his honor. He was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in May 2013 and into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January 2016.
The 2012 season marked Tanner's 25th year as a collegiate head coach, He posted a 738-316 record at South Carolina with a ,700 winning percentage, second highest all-time among SEC coaches, His career record was 1,133-489-3 for a winning percentage of ,699, His final 12 teams featured 23 All-Americans.
Tanner gained valuable experience at an international level in his association with USA Baseball. He served five stints with Red, White and Blue, including in 2003 as head coach for the USA National Baseball Team. At the helm of some of the top freshmen and sophomores in the country, Tanner’s club finished with a 27-2 record, the best record for a U.S. National Team (.931 winning percentage) and won a silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. He was named the U.S. National Coach of the Year for his work that season. Prior to his head coaching stint, Tanner served as an auxiliary coach under Tommy Lasorda for the 2000 Olympic Team that won a gold medal at the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. He was also an assistant under former LSU coach Skip Bertman with the 1995 and 1996 USA teams that culminated in a bronze medal win at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Tanner also served alongside former Mississippi State coach Ron Polk on Bertman’s staff. Tanner’s first stint with USA Baseball came as an assistant coach to the national team in the summer of 1993.
Tanner was named the South Carolina head coach June 14, 1996, after nine successful seasons at North Carolina State. At NC State, Tanner led his alma mater to seven appearances in the NCAA postseason tournament and ranked second for most wins in school history. He was the 1990 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and in 1993, was named Atlantic Region Coach of the Year when his team won 49 games.
Following his playing career with the Wolfpack, Tanner served as an assistant at NC State for Coach Sam Esposito. As an assistant coach, he also held additional duties as assistant to athletics director Jim Valvano and an assistant athletics director in charge of game operations. Following Esposito’s retirement, Valvano elevated the 28-year-old Tanner to head baseball coach.
Tanner has a bachelor’s degree in recreational administration from NC State (1980) and a master's of public affairs, public administration (1983).
Born Donald Ray Tanner, Jr., March 25, 1958, in Smithfield, NC, Tanner grew up in Benson, NC. He is married to the former Karen Donald, a native of Charleston, SC. A University of South Carolina graduate, she was formerly head women's athletic trainer at NC State, During the summer of 1997 she served as trainer for the Charlotte Sting in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), She is the former director of athletics and director of sports medicine at Columbia College.
The Tanners have two daughters, Bridgette Grace ("Gracie") and Margaret Pearl ("Maggie") and one son, Joseph Luke (“Luke”).