A three-time National Coach of the Year and Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, Ray Tanner just completed his 16th year as head coach at the University of South Carolina. Tanner has established one of the premier programs in college baseball. He has 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 the past three seasons in the NCAA Tournament is the fifth best three-year postseason record in NCAA history (must make tournament at least two out of three years to qualify).
In addition, the 2012 CWS trip marked the sixth time in 11 years that South Carolina had reached Omaha. No Division I baseball team has made more appearances than the Gamecocks over the last 11 seasons.
Tanner and the Gamecocks have created one of the top environments in college baseball at Carolina Stadium. After a successful run at Sarge Frye Field through 2008, the Gamecocks made the move to the new $36 million Carolina Stadium where college baseball has continued to grow. South Carolina's total attendance of 295,389 in the 2012 season was second highest in the nation. The average attendance of 7,574 also was a Carolina Stadium record, besting the previous mark of 7,431 in the 2011 season. The Gamecocks also set a record for sellouts in 2012 with 15 games at a capacity of 8,242 fans. In addition, South Carolina set a record for season tickets sold with a total of 5,580 sold in the preseason before the 2012 campaign.
South Carolina is 13-0 in the postseason at Carolina Stadium and the Gamecocks have won 24 straight NCAA Tournament games at home dating back to the 2002 season. The Gamecocks own a 124-26 (.827) record since opening the facility on Feb. 21, 2009.
Tanner's 2012 squad went 49-20 and notched many accomplishments both on and off the field. Left-handed pitcher Michael Roth concluded his impressive career by being named the 2011-12 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and earning a spot on the 2012 CWS All-Tournament team. He would also receive the President's Award, the top honor given to a South Carolina student-athlete. Roth ended his stellar career with three CWS records including career starts (8), career innings pitched (60.1) and career hit batsmen (7). Roth's career ERA of 1.49 is the fifth lowest among all pitchers with at least 30.0 career IP at the CWS. Roth became the first player to start in the championship game of an CWS in three different years. Jim Withers of Southern California (1960, 1961) is the only other player to even start in two. Roth was a ninth round MLB Draft selection by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. First baseman Christian Walker earned All-America accolades for a second consecutive season as he earned second-team honors from the ABCA. Walker, also a first-team SEC selection, led the Gamecocks in all three Triple Crown categories for a second straight year with a .321 batting average, 11 homers and 55 RBI. Walker tied a CWS record for hits also in a career as he notched 28 that put him alongside Dustin Ackley of North Carolina (2007-09). He was a fourth round MLB Draft selection and signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Right-handed pitcher Matt Price earned second-team All-SEC honors and continued his dominance on the mound in the postseason. He set a record for career wins at the CWS with five and tied the CWS career appearance record as he made 13 appearances in the CWS, tying Texas' J. Brent Cox (2003-04-05). Price was a seventh round MLB Draft selection and signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Evan Marzilli made the CWS All-Tournament team, was an eighth round MLB Draft selection and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In addition to a corps of veterans that will never be forgotten by the Garnet & Black faithful, Tanner ushered in a new era with an impressive group of newcomers on the 2012 team. Left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery and catcher Grayson Greiner earned Freshman All-America accolades by Collegiate Baseball with Greiner joining Tanner English and Joey Pankake on the SEC All-Freshman team.
Tanner's 15th season in 2011 with the Garnet & Black culminated in Omaha, Neb., where the Gamecocks won the 2011 National Championship becoming only the ninth repeat champion in MCWS history. Carolina was the first team to go 10-0 in NCAA Tournament play (3-0 in Regional, 2-0 in Super Regional, 5-0 in MCWS) in one season. The Gamecocks, who entered the tournament as the number four national seed, established NCAA records with 16 consecutive postseason wins and 11 consecutive wins in the College World Series. While in Omaha, South Carolina defeated Texas A&M, number one seed Virginia twice, and number two seed Florida twice without a loss.
In the previous year, the Gamecocks closed out Rosenblatt Stadium winning the 2010 National Championship as the Gamecocks became the first team in MCWS history to win six consecutive games in Omaha on the way to a national title, the first men's national championship at the University of South Carolina.
Under Tanner's leadership, South Carolina owns the longest current streak of NCAA Regional appearances among the 12 SEC schools with 13 straight trips to the tournament dating back to the 2000 season. In that span, Carolina has 10 NCAA Super Regional appearances (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012). South Carolina is one of only two schools in the nation to make at least 10 NCAA Super Regionals in the last 13 years and one of only six schools in the country to have reached the NCAA Regionals every season from 2000 to the present. The program's 13-year record of 626-251 is the second-highest win total among NCAA Division I schools. South Carolina has 13 consecutive seasons of 40 or more wins.
Carolina's 2011 SEC regular-season championship was the third in school history as the Gamecocks also collected championships in the Southeastern Conference with regular-season titles in 2000 and 2002 along with a SEC Tournament crown in 2004. Tanner's last 12 teams have featured 23 All-America performers.
The 2012 season was Tanner's 25th year as a collegiate head coach. At South Carolina, Tanner owns a 738-316 record at South Carolina with a .700 winning percentage, second highest all-time among SEC coaches. His career record is 1,133-489-3 for a winning percentage of .698.
Tanner guided South Carolina's 2011 squad to one of the most impressive seasons in school history with a share of the SEC championship and the number one seed at the SEC Tournament on the way to the school's second-consecutive national title. Carolina won nine of 10 league series in the regular season en route to a 22-8 conference record. The team featured All-America and All-SEC pitcher Michael Roth, who went 14-3 on the year, including a win in the national championship clincher over Florida. Roth's 14 wins tied for the national lead and his ERA was best among all starting pitchers in college baseball. Roth ranks on South Carolina's single-season charts in ERA (2nd, 1.06), starts (T1st, 20), innings (3rd, 145) and wins (T5th, 14). Roth also showcased his talents off the field as an Academic All-America first-team selection and as winner of the Elite 88 Award for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, given to the student-athlete with the top GPA at the College World Series. Right-handed reliever Matt Price also earned All-America and All-SEC accolades as he posted seven wins and 20 saves out of the bullpen in 59.0 innings. First baseman Christian Walker earned All-America and All-SEC honors as well as he led the way for the Gamecocks at the plate as the team's Triple Crown winner with a .358 batting average, 10 HR and 62 RBI. Second baseman Scott Wingo was a first-team All-SEC honoree as well as the College World Series Most Outstanding Player. Wingo hit .333 over five games in the series with four RBI, including three in the finals, and also made several stellar defensive plays throughout the MCWS. He finished his career having appeared in 254 career games, one shy of South Carolina's school record (255 Michael Campbell, (2003-06). Right-hander Forrest Koumas earned SEC All-Freshman team honors with Walker, Wingo and junior outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. named to the All-SEC Defensive team. The 2011 MLB Draft concluded with 11 South Carolina players selected, one behind the SEC record of 12 set this year by Vanderbilt.
Tanner gained valuable experience at an international level in his association with USA Baseball. He has 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 current 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.
The 1997 Gamecocks compiled a 33-24 record in Tanner's initial season and qualified for the Southeastern Conference post-season tournament. The 1997 team produced a first-team All-America player in designated hitter Ryan Bordenick. Bordenick and pitcher Brett Jodie were named to the All-SEC team, and shortstop Adam Everett was chosen to play with the U.S. National Team. Bordenick and catcher Rob Streicher were named All-South.
The 1998 team was ranked among the top 20 in the nation, compiled a 44-18 record and earned a bid to the NCAA playoffs with Tanner earning SEC Coach of the Year. Pitcher Kip Bouknight, outfielder Mike Curry and shortstop Adam Everett were named first-team All-SEC. Bouknight, Everett, Curry and Bordenick picked up All-America recognition, and pitcher Peter Bauer was named Freshman All-America.
The 1999 team won South Carolina's first Southeastern Conference Eastern Division championship and finished with a 35-23 record. It produced first-team All-SEC designated hitter Tim Angiolini with shortstop Brian Roberts making the second team. Roberts led the NCAA in stolen bases with a school record 67 and also earned All-America recognition. Four players from the 1999 squad signed professional contracts.
Tanner's 2000 South Carolina team won the Southeastern Conference championship, a regional championship, advanced to a Super Regional and finished with a 56-10 record. The 2000 team was ranked first in the final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) compiled by the NCAA and among the Top 10 in the three national final polls. Baseball America ranked the Gamecocks fourth, Baseball Weekly eighth and Collegiate Baseball ninth. In addition, Tanner was named National Coach of the Year as well as SEC Coach of the Year for a second time. Pitcher Kip Bouknight, 2000 consensus All-America, won the Golden Spikes Award for the nation's top amateur baseball player and finished the year with a 17-1 record. Bouknight and pitcher Scott Barber were first-team selections on the 2000 All-SEC squad, and pitcher Peter Bauer, outfielder Nate Janowicz and shortstop Drew Meyer were All-SEC second-team.
His 2001 Gamecocks finished with a 49-20 record, won a regional and advanced to a Super Regional finishing in the top 15 in the national final polls. Carolina was 12th in the Baseball America poll, 13th in Baseball Weekly and 15th by Collegiate Baseball. The 2001 Gamecocks battled through the loser's bracket to win a second-straight regional championship but lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to Stanford in the third and deciding Super Regional game at Palo Alto, Calif. Tanner's 2001 squad produced two All-America players in pitcher Lee Gronkiewicz, the nation's leader in saves, and catcher Tim Whittaker, who was also a semi-finalist for the Johnny Bench Award. Outfielder Garris Gonce, Gronkiewicz and outfielder Marcus McBeth were All-SEC.
In 2002, Tanner and his Gamecocks made it to Omaha and stayed 12 days to finish as national runner-up. It was the first trip for Tanner and culminated in a national championship showdown between South Carolina and Texas. The Gamecocks won their second SEC championship in three years, and Tanner was named 2002 American Baseball Coaches Association South Region Coach of the Year. South Carolina was ranked as the number two team in the nation in all of the final polls. The final 2002 record was 57-18, topping the school record of 56 wins set two years earlier. The 2002 team won four games in the SEC Tournament after winning the official conference title with a 21-8 record in conference games. The Gamecocks then defeated Virginia Commonwealth and North Carolina twice to advance to the Super Regional for the third year in a row. The Gamecocks won two of three from defending national champion Miami (Fla.) to advance to the College World Series in Omaha. It took a five-run ninth-inning rally to defeat the Hurricanes in the deciding game. After being shut out 11-0 by Georgia Tech to open the 2002 World Series, Tanner's team fought back. Carolina defeated home state favorite Nebraska 10-8, Georgia Tech, 9-5 and Palmetto State archrival Clemson twice, 12-5 and 10-2, before losing the title game to Texas 12-6. It was South Carolina's third second-place finish in Omaha. The Gamecocks were also runners-up in 1975 under coach Bobby Richardson and in 1977 under coach June Raines.
Three of Tanner's players, first baseman Yaron Peters, pitcher Blake Taylor and shortstop Drew Meyer earned All-American honors. Peters was the SEC Player of the Year, and Taylor led the nation in saves with 21. Meyer was a first-round pick, the 10th overall choice in 2002 and the third-consecutive Gamecock shortstop to be drafted in the first round.
South Carolina returned to the College World Series in 2003 and notched one win, an 11-10 slugfest over fellow SEC member LSU wrapped around a pair of losses to CWS runner-up Stanford. The final record in 2003 was 45-22 and in the final national polls the Gamecocks were ranked sixth by Collegiate Baseball, seventh by Baseball Weekly and 10th by Baseball America.
To get to Omaha a second-straight time South Carolina won its fourth SEC Eastern Division championship, a fourth-consecutive NCAA Regional championship and a second consecutive Super Regional.
The 2003 Gamecocks swept the Atlanta Regional hosted by Georgia Tech with a win over East Carolina and two over Stetson and then swept two super regional games against North Carolina at Sarge Frye Field. Two of Tanner's 2003 players, pitcher David Marchbanks and third baseman Brian Buscher, earned All-America recognition. Marchbanks was also SEC Pitcher of the Year, and he, Buscher and Landon Powell were named All-SEC. Seven 2003 Gamecocks were drafted and three others signed as free agents.
South Carolina made its third-straight trip to Omaha in 2004 when the Gamecocks finished with a 53-17 record and in the process set or tied 20 school records. Four of Tanner's players earned All-America honors in 2004, Powell and pitchers Chad Blackwell, Matt Campbell and Aaron Rawl. Powell and Blackwell also earned All-SEC honors along with Brendan Winn. Six Gamecocks were drafted and signed professional baseball contracts in the 2004 season, including Powell and Campbell, who were selected in the first round of the MLB draft, the first time in history that two Carolina players were taken in the first round. Carolina finished the year ranked third in the country in all three national polls.
Carolina had another successful season in 2005 that saw the Gamecocks earn a spot in the NCAA Atlanta Regional. Carolina finished 41-23 and reached the final game of the NCAA Regional. Senior first baseman Steve Pearce earned All-America honors and was named NCBWA District IV Player of the Year. Junior shortstop Steven Tolleson joined Pearce on the All-SEC team. Pearce, Davy Gregg, Aaron Rawl and Zac McCamie all signed professional baseball contracts at the end of the season. The Gamecocks finished the season ranked 21st by Sports Weekly and 25th by Baseball America.
Carolina earned another trip to the postseason in 2006 and won the NCAA Charlottesville Regional before falling one win shy of a trip to Omaha and the College World Series by winning the first game of the NCAA Super Regional in Athens. Despite having a young team, Tanner molded together a group that saw four players earn All-SEC honors, including first-team outfielder Michael Campbell and second-team honorees Robbie Grinestaff (designated hitter), Reese Havens (shortstop) and Wynn Pelzer (relief pitcher). In addition to Havens, first baseman Justin Smoak, outfielder Andrew Crisp and starting pitcher Mike Cisco were named to the SEC All-Freshman team. The seven Gamecocks honored were the most players from an individual school to be recognized by the conference coaches in 2006. Smoak and Crisp also received national recognition with freshman All-America honors. Carolina finished 2006 ranked 12th by Collegiate Baseball as well as 13th by Baseball America and 15th in the Sports Weekly/ABCA coaches' poll.
South Carolina recorded its eighth-consecutive 40-plus win season in 2007 and achieved a ranking as high as No. 1 in the nation during the year. Carolina earned a trip to the postseason and won the NCAA Columbia (S.C.) Regional before again falling one win shy of a trip to Omaha and the College World Series by winning one game in the NCAA Super Regional in Chapel Hill.
The 2007 team featured two All-America players in Smoak and designated hitter Phil Disher. Disher would also earn first-team All-SEC honors along with second baseman Travis Jones. Smoak picked up a second-team All-SEC selection along with third baseman James Darnell. Baseball America and the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll ranked South Carolina at No. 10 at the end of the season with the Gamecocks coming in at No. 11 in Collegiate Baseball's final rankings.
South Carolina recorded its ninth-consecutive 40-plus win season in 2008 and earned a trip to the postseason and the NCAA Raleigh Regional, where the Gamecocks finished in second place. The 2008 squad featured Smoak and Havens, who along with All-America honors, were selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. Smoak was the 11th overall pick to the Texas Rangers with Havens drafted 22nd overall to the New York Mets. The Gamecocks finished with seven players drafted. Smoak and Havens also earned All-SEC accolades along with third Darnell and designated hitter Phil Disher. Smoak was a first-team choice with Darnell, Disher and Havens named to the second-team.
Tanner and South Carolina returned to the Top 25 in 2009 with a squad that finished the year 40-23 with a 17-13 mark in the SEC for second place in the Eastern Division. The Gamecocks finished in second place in the NCAA Greenville (N.C.) Regional. Having to replace several top players from the year before, the Gamecocks showcased new talent that included Jackie Bradley Jr., a consensus Freshman All-America selection, as well as second-team All-SEC first baseman Nick Ebert, who was among the nation's leaders in home runs with 23. Carolina also had several players drafted, including sixth-round selection Justin Dalles to the Baltimore Orioles and 13th round pick DeAngelo Mack to the New York Yankees. Mack, Dalles, Ebert and junior shortstop Bobby Haney earned All-SEC accolades with Bradley and left-handed pitcher Nolan Belcher named to the SEC All-Freshman team. The 2010 Gamecocks finished with a 54-16 record, won a Regional and Super Regional before heading to Omaha to win the school's first baseball national championship. The 2010 team featured All-America and All-SEC pitcher Blake Cooper along with Freshman All-America first baseman Christian Walker and Freshman All-America relief pitcher Matt Price. Price also earned second-team All-SEC honors with outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player. Walker, Price and Evan Marzilli received SEC All-Freshman team honors as well. The Gamecocks finished SEC season play with an impressive 21-9 record also. Six players would go on to sign professional contracts after the season.
Before arriving to Columbia as head coach of the Gamecocks, Tanner led his alma mater, NC State, 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.
While he was head coach a NC State for nine seasons, Tanner was affiliated with the Wolfpack baseball program for more than 20 years. He came to the Raleigh campus in the fall of 1976 as a player following an outstanding career at South Johnston High School in Four Oaks, N.C. A four-year starter at shortstop and third base, he earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors his senior season and still ranks among the Wolfpack's all-time leaders in several categories.
Following his playing career, Tanner served as an assistant for NC State coach Sam Esposito, overseeing recruiting efforts and coaching third base.
When Esposito retired, Tanner moved up at the age of 28, becoming one of the youngest head baseball coaches in the nation. During his tenure as an assistant, the Wolfpack reached the NCAA Tournament twice. He had additional duties as assistant to the athletics director and as assistant athletics director in charge of game operations.
Tanner has a bachelor of science 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, N.C., Tanner grew up in Benson, N.C. He is married to the former Karen Donald, a native of Charleston, S.C. 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 Charlotte in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She is the former director of athletics and director of sports medicine at Columbia College.
They have two daughters, Bridgette Grace ("Gracie") and Margaret Pearl ("Maggie") and one son, Joseph Luke ("Luke").
THE RAY TANNER FILE