Ray Tanner speaks to the media after becoming athletics director on July 13, 2012.
USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner (left) and President Dr. Harris Pastides pose for a photo on July 13, 2012.
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Ray Tanner became USC's new Athletics Director Friday, where he says he'll work to continue the upward progress of the university's sports programs over the last decade.
USC President Dr. Harris Pastides introduced Tanner in his new role in front of a crowded room at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"We had the right person on our team already," Pastides said. "[We wanted someone] who knows the rules, respects the rules, and plays by the rules."
"I'm honored and humbled to become athletics director at this great university," Tanner told the group. "I'm a Gamecock, and I bleed Garnet and Black."
The new Gamecocks athletics leader said his emphasis will be on graduating student-athletes and helping them to compete on a high level, and keeping maintaining high integrity and fiscal soundness.
Tanner takes over from Eric Hyman, who left the school after seven years to take a similar job at Texas A&M.
Tanner, of course, has spent the last 16 years as the school's head baseball coach, where he became the most successful coach in the 120 year history of Gamecocks athletics. Tanner led the Gamecocks to two national championships--the first team titles in school history--and four title game appearances. He also took USC to six College World Series, posted a 738-316 record, and was named national coach of the year.
Speculation that Tanner would get the job began soon after Hyman resigned. Pastides was in Europe for several days, but returned to Columbia Wednesday. Thursday, reports began to surface that Tanner had been given the job.
Tanner said he approached Pastides immediately after the position came open.
"I called him like every 30 minutes to see what was going on," Tanner said. ""I didn't want to have any questions in his mind."
Tanner inherits a program that's seen remarkable growth in the last seven years, with improved play on the field and an upgrade in the school's facilities, including the building of Carolina Stadium in 2009 and the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center.
While some may be surprised by his move into administration, Tanner said it's something he's been thinking about for over two decades. In fact, he'd approached Pastides two years ago about transitioning away from coaching.
"I've always been interested in how it's all put together," Tanner said. "I love it [coaching], I was having fun, but I've never been a coach that wanted to stay until it was too late. I wanted to get out while it was great."
He said that he's proud of his tenure, and says if you think his coaching passion is going away, think again.
"I will miss putting the uniform but you can rest assured I'll be coaching where I'm sitting, maybe a little armchair style."
Tanner will officially assume his new position August 2, but he didn't waste any time naming two key members of his staff. Tanners said Charles Waddle will be the new Deputy Athletics Director, while Kevin O'Connell will be Chief Operating Officer.
While no official announcement has been made, Gamecocks Assistant Head Coach Chad Holbrooke is expected to become the new leader of that squad. Tanner coyly said Friday that a press conference was taking place Monday at 11 a.m., and that there would be a "short search" for a new coach.