Monte Lee replaces Toman as USC Recruiter

Ray Tanner got his man, and he didn't have to go far to get him. Tanner announced the promotion of hitting instructor Monte Lee to Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at a Friday afternoon press conference. Read inside to find out what Carolina fans didn't know about their new coach.

Lee takes over for the departed Jim Toman, who is now the head coach at Liberty University. Lee has spent the last five seasons at Carolina, where, in addition to his duties as hitting instructor, he was the first base coach and Camp Coordinator for Tanner's baseball camps. Lee was born in Spartanburg, and played college baseball at the College of Charleston. Before joining the Gamecocks, he was an assistant coach at Spartanburg Methodist Junior College.

"I thought it was very important that we get the right person to spearhead our recruiting," Tanner said. "For the second time in his career here, Coach Lee was activated to be on the road recruiting. He's made some tremendous headway in a short period of time. What he's done on the road for the past month has really been impressive."

In addition to the publicized meeting with North Carolina's Chad Holbrook, Tanner said he had on-campus interviews with four other candidates, and interviewed another five by phone.

"I just felt I should take plenty of time to make a decision that I felt 100% comfortable with and committed to," he explained. "It kept coming back to me that Coach Lee was the best man for the job. He came highly recommended by a lot of people who didn't have a dog in the hunt."

Lee described himself as a lifelong Gamecock fan that now had his dream job.

"To get a chance to come here even as a volunteer assistant for the past five years was a dream come true for me," he said. "When you get a chance to coach at the University of South Carolina, you know you're going to coach great kids [and] great talent. I've never really thought about other jobs, I enjoyed working here so much."

The promotion also means that Lee will no longer have to work on the side to make ends meet. As a volunteer coach, Lee taught at Blythewood Middle School. He taught classes from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM before going to campus to fulfill his coaching duties. He also earned money as the Camp Coordinator for Tanner's baseball camps. That experience, he says, will be invaluable as Recruiting Coordinator.

"To run the camps, you get a chance to meet a lot of the coaches in the state and make ties with them, and make a lot of good strong relationships with the kids from South Carolina."

Lee's promotion does mean there will be a shakeup in responsibilities for the coaching staff. Lee's new duties will include being "the new guy that gets blamed for players not doing well," according to Tanner. Meanwhile, needing a new third base coach, Tanner said, "I'll probably lose eight or ten pounds and get back in that box over there."

Notes: - Tanner said he would hire a volunteer coach to fill Lee's old position soon. "I've had dialogue with that person, but he's not in a situation right now to make the move, but he will be in a short period of time."

- There has been no revised timetable for completion of the new baseball stadium. Tanner stressed that, while he is disappointed that the delays have put chances of the stadium being ready for opening day in jeopardy, such delays are a fact of life with such a large project.

- It is still unknown if pitcher Wynn Pelzer will return to the team. Pelzer was drafted by the San Diego Padres, who have until August 15 to sign him to a contract.

- Tanner is hopeful the recent NCAA changes to baseball scholarship distribution will be revised. He stopped short of saying he expected the rules to be overturned, but sounded confident there would be changes.

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