Ray Tanner has been in some close, heartbreaking games. He's been on the cusp of winning championships, only to have them slip through his fingers at the last moment, all the while keeping a somber face.
But the USC baseball coach's normal composure was lost Tuesday afternoon as he fought back tears when discussing yesterday's dismissal of outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall and pitcher Nick Fuller from the team.
"It's just a tremendous disappointment. You just take a blow," Tanner said. "It's just hard to understand. You just take a hit."
The pair faces charges of grand larceny and burglary following incidents at the Roost Academic Enrichment Center, Springs Sports Complex and the Roost Dormitories on March 13. Fuller (three charges of each) and Chisenhall (one charge of each) stole items, including three Dell desktop computers, a television, a Playstation and $3,100 dollars from assistant coach Jim Toman's locker.
"Nobody's perfect. But I knew Nick's parents, Lonnie's parents, and as you would make the comment, they come from good stock and they know right from wrong," Tanner said. "And they made very poor decisions."
Tanner said after numerous discussions with both players yesterday, the two confessed to taking the property, which has since been returned.
"I think they know me well enough that when I sat down with them, the truth was going to come out. I gave them an opportunity to come forward," Tanner said. "I knew they were going to be questioned, and I suggested to them that at this point, if there was something going on, they needed to come forward, and they did that."
Both players were immediately removed from the team, a decision Tanner made abundantly clear will not change as long as he's the coach at Carolina.
"I certainly feel that the decision made about their future here is the right one," Tanner said. "I feel for those young men. But they need to get things straightened out."
To Tanner's surprise, neither player could provide reasoning for their actions, as money problems were not the issue.
"You just don't expect something like this," Tanner said. "You have things that happen and guys make mistakes, but you just don't expect things like this to happen. You don't know what to say or how to react."
Despite the adversity, Tanner knew his season and program would recover from the incident; and even though he hadn't placed a lot of thought into tonight's game with UNC-Asheville, was ready to get back to playing baseball.
"I'm anxious for the first pitch," Tanner said. "I need to get back in that zone."
Tanner: "Tremendous Disappointment"
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